Sail training at Tabor Academy began in 1918, and the school’s current training vessel has sailed for the school since 1954. Built as a North Sea pilot schooner, the Tabor Boy is sturdy, seaworthy and safe – a perfect vessel for sail training.
The Tabor Boy has served many different and varied programs during her time at the school. One of the vessel’s primary functions for the past 20 years has been Tabor’s Orientation at Sea Program for incoming students.
Although optional, the Orientation at Sea Program gives students opportunities to get to know one another and the school in a learning environment that is unique to Tabor Academy. Students spend six days aboard the Tabor Boy, living and working together with the captain, crew, a Tabor faculty chaperone, and an onboard instructor and program director. Each week, the vessel sails to various anchorages and harbors in Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound. Students become familiar with local geography and some of the region’s history while also learning about coastal marine science, navigation and sail-handling.
While aboard for their orientation cruise, students serve as trainees under the crew’s supervision. The crew members are current and former Tabor students who are also members of the regular fall and spring Tabor Boy crew, allowing new students are able to interact with upperclassmen and recent Tabor graduates. The crew teaches the students how to take part in sail-handling and navigation safely and competently, while providing them with first-hand insight on what it is like to be a student at Tabor Academy.
Students are divided into two watches, port and starboard, each under the direct supervision of a watch officer. While underway, one watch maintains a lookout at the head of the vessel, takes turns at the helm, helps handle sails and learns the basics of coastal navigation from the watch officers.
The other watch works with the program director, learning about coastal marine science through different hands-on activities that are tied directly to the local environment.
Whether it is an exciting sail on Buzzards Bay, visiting local harbors or jumping from the rigging for a swim, there is something for every student in Tabor’s Orientation at Sea Program. The new experiences and challenges the program provides give students a great start to their Tabor careers while helping them meet new people.
When these students arrive in Marion in the fall, they have not only a strong circle of friends but also a true understanding of what it means to attend The School by the Sea.