SEAFARING TRADITIONS LIVE ON IN ROYAL NAVAL DOCKYARD’S SPIRIT OF BERMUDA. In the 17th century, Bermudians took to the water in fast, sturdy sloops whose sailing required the finest in cooperative seamanship. That tradition lives on today in Spirit of Bermuda, the training ship of the Bermuda Sloop Foundation. The foundation’s objective is to provide development opportunities to a cross-section of Bermuda youth by using Spirit of Bermuda as both a supportive community and a classroom, integrating programmes at sea with the students’ formal education. Living and working together, youngsters of both genders and from both public and private schools set goals and implement ways of achieving them. Along the way, they learn important lessons in teamwork and responsibility and emerge with a heightened sense of responsibility and self-worth. Visits to foreign ports in places including the United States, Canada, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, the Azores and Spain provide young sailors with opportunities to represent their country. Life at sea demands unflagging attention to details and a strong sense of individual responsibility. Students return from their voyages with new respect for order and discipline, understanding of the importance of skill building, appreciation of the advantages of planning ahead, a sense of camaraderie and acceptance, the ability to stay calm in emergencies, and perhaps most important, pride in their achievements and the courage to admit and learn from their mistakes. Spirit of Bermuda was built by Rockport Marine of Rockport, Maine, an American coastal community where seafaring is also a way of life, and sailed into Bermuda on October 1, 2006. Her arrival was greeted by hundreds of well-wishers on land and a flotilla of large and small private boats — a warm welcome for a ship which, in just a few short years, has provided so many opportunities for Bermudian youth. An exquisite replica of an 1830s Bermuda merchant schooner, Spirit of Bermuda continues to evoke the island’s proud past whilst preparing young men and women to achieve in today’s world and look towards an even brighter tomorrow.
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