Sea History 082 - Autumn 1997

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How the Tall Ships Sail Today for Our Tomorrows ehind the romantic spectacle of the tall sailing ships that appear off our shores every ten years or so on great national occasions, there are powerful purposes at work-purposes deep-rooted in the shared past of humankind and deeply refreshing to our present experience. We propose to set about exploring these dynamic, shaping purposes as the tall ships make ready for their visit to our shores in OpSail 2000. One thing clear at the outset is that the ships and their young crews radiate adventure. There's no question but that is a leading reason why millions of people come to the water's edge to see the ships. More people have gathered


for past OpSails than for any other purpose, ever, in America. People are drawn by real ships sailing to high purpose. And we suggest that true adventure, the sort the tall ships are about, is involved with the fundamentals of life rather than sound-bite wisdom or pop answers to life 's big questions. From the Very Beginning In launching our NMHS Maritime Education Initiative five years ago Walter Cronkite said: Why don't we teach history from the very beginning ? We came out of the sea as the human race , and we have depended on the sea urgently in every sense ever since the day we came out of the water. He continued: And of course, much of our inspiration and the movement of peoples and the founding of new nations have come by way of the sea. It 's quite a challenge to interpret that kind of experience and to help people enter into it more fully. We are going at this challenge with everything we've learned from five

years of the Maritime Education Initiative, in which we ' ve studied many examples of maritime education that actually work with people. We ' ll need help from all our NMHS members to make this program work. There will be changes, but this is what we see ahead: • A book telling the lively story of how the ocean-going sailing ship opened up our world in the past thousand yearsa story informed by the actual experiences of people before our time, their goals , how they went about them , and what it was really like along the way. • A film presenting dramatic vignettes of this historic experience at sea, set against current sailing experience and current attempts to relearn our past in fresh perspectives. • Media seminars backed by film clips and special publications to get across to the media some elementary understanding of how the tall ships sail today and why. There have been occasional worthwhile media stories, but too many miss the mark. We want to see more informed and informative reporting, reaching millions of people. • Experiential classes for students ex ploring particular aspects of how the

Scenes from the NMHS "New York Is a Capital Ship" Program in action last summer From top left: Students discuss harbor activity with Lillian Borrone (Director of Port Operations) at the Port Authority ofNY & NJ and relate sites they have seen from the water to maps and charts of the harbor. Peter Stanford briefs students before visiting the National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan. Maximo "Junior" Faujul, Jr., waits to embark for a harbor tour aboard the tug W. 0 . Decker at South Street Seaport Museum .