Victoria’s Sail and Life Training Society
The topsail schooner Pacific Grace and the schooner Pacific Grace, both vessels were built by SALTS
Photo by Andrew Barclay
(SALTS) was founded in 1974 and operates as a registered charity in Canada and the USA. The Society maintains and operates two tall ships, the Pacific Grace and Pacific Swift, offering sail training to young people ages 13-25 and day sails for persons of all ages.
Each year 1,700 young people benefit from the life-changing experience of learning to sail either SALTS Pacific Swift or Pacific Grace. Trainees come from all socio-economic backgrounds. A bursary program helps cover costs for those who cannot afford the experience. SALTS partners with numerous youth organizations to provide bursaries to youth who are at-risk, from low income households, or are from challenging life situations.
SALTS’ spring and fall voyages are through BC’s Gulf Islands while each summer the ships circumnavigate Vancouver Island. Periodically, SALTS conducts an offshore voyage to ports around the world.
Trainees are encouraged to develop a strong work ethic and to take on responsibility. They learn the value of teamwork and cooperation – it takes everyone’s participation to sail a ship. They develop relational skills, learn to deal with interpersonal conflict while living in close community. Most report an increase in confidence as a result of overcoming their fears and succeeding in challenges – such as climbing the 115-foot rigging on a moving ship. Trainees learn all aspects of sailing a ship. They are split into three “watches” and assigned their shipboard responsibilities. At least one watch is always on duty day and night. Trainees work their way through the SALTS sail training curriculum. Duties include steering the ship, bow watch, sail handling, anchor watch, navigation, radio monitoring, small boat handling, and galley chores. The subjects of formal instruction include sailing theory, rules of the road, sailing terminology, and knots.
Intentional discussions at meal times and informal conversations throughout the voyage provide opportunities for “life training” and mentorship. Shore trips to select locations among beautiful coastal islands and rousing evening mug-ups with games, stories, and singing complete the exciting and diverse SALTS experience.
Continuing the tradition established by several previous Lieutenant Governors of BC, the Honorable Judith Guichon, OBC is SALTS’ Honorary Patron. The Society has received the prestigious 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 each year at the Victoria Classic Boat Festival.
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.