The Sail and Life Training Society (SALTS®) was founded in 1974 and is a registered charity in Canada and the USA (FORGN tax exempt status in the USA).
The Society operates two tall ships, thePacific Grace and Pacific Swift, and offers sail training to young people ages 13-25 (as well as Day Sails for all ages). These ships are maintained at the SALTS Marina at 451 Herald Street, Victoria BC.
Each year, 1700 young people have the life changing experience of learning to sail a tall ship with SALTS. Voyages take them to the Gulf Islands of BC each spring and fall, and in the summer the ships circumnavigate Vancouver Island. Periodically, SALTS conducts an offshore voyage to ports around the world. Young people from all socio-economic backgrounds participate, and a bursary program helps cover costs for those who cannot afford to pay. SALTS partners with numerous other youth organizations to provide bursaries to youth who are at-risk, from low income households, or from challenging life situations.
Young “trainees” learn all aspects of sailing the ship. They are split into three “watches” (groups) and given responsibilities as training crew. At least one watch is always on duty, working in shifts both day and night. Duties include taking the wheel of the ship, bow watch, sail handling, anchor watch, navigation, radio monitoring, small boat handling, galley chores, etc. Formal instruction is given regarding sailing theory, rules of the road, sailing terminology, knots, etc. Trainees work their way through the SALTS sail training curriculum. Shore trips to beautiful coastal islands and rousing evening mug-ups with games, stories, and singing make for an exciting and diverse experience.
Trainees are encouraged to develop a strong work ethic and take on responsibility. They learn about teamwork and cooperation, because it takes everyone’s participation to sail the ship. They develop relational skills, learn to deal with interpersonal conflict, and live in close community.
Most report an increase in confidence as a result of overcoming their fears and succeeding in challenges—such as climbing the rigging 115’ in the air on a moving ship! Intentional discussions at meal times and informal conversations provide opportunities for “life training” and mentorship.
The Honorable Judith Guichon, OBC, is Honorary Patron of SALTS, continuing a tradition established by several previous Lieutenant Governors of BC. The Society has received the Sail Training Program of the Year Award from Tall Ships America. Public tours of the ships are available on the Saturday of Labour Day Weekend at the Victoria Classic Boat Festival each year.
SALTS is a Christian organization. Society membership and program participation are open to people from all walks of life and beliefs. A prayer is said prior to each voyage and grace is sung before each meal. During our summer and offshore sailing programs, there is a simple service held aboard ship on the seventh day. Trainees are welcomed and respected regardless of their personal beliefs.
Mission: To develop the spiritual, relational, and physical potential of young people through sail training, shipboard life, and associated activities in a Christian environment.
Motto: Training, by the sea, for life.
Logo: The society’s logo shows a schooner sailing “wing and wing” with mainsail and foresail balancing each other. Old schoonermen called this “readin’ both pages”, a harmony of forces which symbolizes the necessity of both the physical and spiritual dimensions in each individual.
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