Feature Story

Life on deck

Abbey Stroud (‘23) worked as a deckhand on the Bluenose II last summer
By: Alexandra Montana

Immediately after graduating from Mount Allison with a Bachelor of Arts last spring, Abbey Stroud set sail on the Bluenose II.

Originally from Pictou, NS, her interest in joining the schooner’s crew was rooted in her family’s heritage.

“It was cool to experience something that members of my family who were sailors may have experienced in the past,” says Stroud. “This experience gave me a stronger connection to Nova Scotia and made me proud to be able to represent not only the Bluenose II, but my own community.”

Stroud received full training and certification in Lunenburg, NS. Although she had some experience with sailing in the past, sailing on the Bluenose II was a lot different than what she was used to.

“Everything is five times the size, so you're basically learning everything you know about sailing all over again,” she says.

Stroud looks back fondly on her experience on the Bluenose II, the memories she made, and the skills she learned.

“You are on the water for hours and hours and you're constantly learning new things and you have to do those things quickly,” says Stroud. “It can be difficult, but it teaches you a lot about how to look out for each other.”

There is a saying that is used by the crew onboard: Ship, shipmate, self.

“This saying shows our priorities while aboard the ship,” says Stroud. “Anything you do is in service to the ship and for the safety of the ship. The next important thing is looking out for your shipmates, and ‘self’ is at the very bottom. You have to think about the safety of the other people around you first and you learn to have a lot of situational awareness.”

After her summer as a deckhand, Stroud became the Canadian representative to the Sail Training International Youth Council, and the Canadian youth representative on the Tall ShipsCAN board of directors.

Tall ShipsCAN is a non-profit organization that focuses on promoting sail training, preserving the Maritime’s heritage of sailing, marine career advocacy, and supporting Canadian operators through promoting their programs, group bookings, grant opportunities, and more.

Each year, Sail Training International hosts a conference open to everyone involved in sail training and tall ships races, regattas, seminars, and workshops.

Stroud at the Sail Training International Conference in Dunkirk, France
Stroud with some of the crew and officers laying aloft in Indian Point

As part of the Sail Training International Youth Council, Stroud had the opportunity to attend last year’s conference which took place in Dunkirk, France over two days in November.

The Youth Council met a few days prior to the conference to discuss the year in review and set goals and projects for the upcoming year.

Alongside the American representative on Youth Council, Stroud is working on a project called SeaFair that focuses on expanding inclusiveness in the sail training industry. The duo will work on creating connections that are long-lasting and practical for future exploration or seafaring opportunities.

“Sail training is perceived as something that is unattainable for people who are underrepresented due to the costs associated with the program,” says Stroud. “The biggest thing for us is to find ways to change that narrative.”

SeaFair’s goal is to seek partnerships with local sail training organizations throughout the East Coast and the U.S. to provide opportunities to youth who are interested in setting sail. The hope is that an introductory experience will further engage youth with tall ships in communities in nearby ports.

“There are many programs available to people who want to get involved, so my goal with SeaFair is to help youth find the resources they need and show them that this opportunity is accessible in their communities,” says Stroud.