Star Tribune illustrator Eddie Thomas received e-mails from readers who enjoyed his late-January Travel story about his trip aboard the tall ship Pride of Baltimore II. (See the story at www.tinyurl.com/ku76ghs.) Among them, one stood out.
Patricia Ewer of Mound, a self-described "62-year-old weekend sailor," had taken her own turn aboard one of the tall ships during last summer's Tall Ships Festival on the Great Lakes. The one she boarded hosts a school during the usual academic months called Class Afloat – West Island College International.
"I would like to highlight the school program, which I think would be a wonderful opportunity for any young person," Ewer wrote in the e-mail.
During her two-week trip aboard the Norwegian ship SS Sørlandet from Duluth to Chicago, Ewer had plenty of time to meet her fellow sailors. Many were Class Afloat instructors and alumni. "The graduates from this program that I crewed with were absolutely outstanding individuals," she wrote. She met alumni from around the world, including Canada, France and Germany.
Each August, the SS Sørlandet leaves its home port of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, with a collection of high school, university and gap-year students. During a five-month semester, the students learn how to sail a tall ship, which visits 20 ports of call on four continents. They also take rigorous academic classes and explore the countries they visit by seeing historic sights, doing volunteer service and engaging in activities such as snorkeling.
Call it a semester aboard — and abroad. I sure wish I were a student again. (More info: www.classafloat.com; 1-800-301-7245.)
Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.