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Alumni Testimonials

Claire Fraser
5 & 7 Day Coastal Expeditions, March Break Wilderness Survival, Leading Crew In Training, Volunteer

"I am so grateful to have come across the Nova Scotia Sea School. If only I could have known about the school four years ago when I was fourteen, however it’s better late than never. I first heard about the Sea School last summer from the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, through an email promoting the Sea School expeditions as possible qualifying journeys for the award.

The first trip I took with The Nova Scotia Sea School was their March Break Take it Outdoors, winter camping adventure. I remember being very nervous before the trip, feeling worried about wildlife, my 24-hour solo, the toilet conditions and what the other participants would be like. I could not have had a better March Break vacation. Sure there were challenging aspect, but I gained so much from the experience; whether it be leadership skill, knowledge on winter survival or some great memories with a wonderful group of outgoing teenagers and leaders.

Within a couple weeks after my first Sea School trip, I was signed up for the Youth 5 Day Sailing Expedition. Since I already had a taste of the Sea School from my previous trip, I was very excited for my next adventure. The instructors at the Nova Scotia Sea School are very friendly and very knowledgeable, even though they put you to a challenge, they will always make you feel safe. My sailing trip was an even better experience than my winter camping trip. Even though our group faced many challenges, ranging from pouring rain to feeling a bit sea sick, by the end of the expedition all the participants were keen to stay involved with the Sea School in the future. Some of my best memories from my sailing trip would be, sailing, swimming, cooking, joking around and talking with the group, eating the good food, admiring the beautiful scenery, working as a team, relaxing and even cleaning the bilge!

After having two memorable trips with the Sea School, I know that I would like to become a leading crew and continue to contribute my time and enjoyment to the school. The day I returned home from my 5-Day sailing expedition, I signed up for the 7-Day Coastal Expedition for the following month. I want to take every opportunity I can to be involved with the Nova Scotia Sea School and I would love to become an assistant instructor in the future. The Nova Scotia Sea School can be for anyone, you don’t have to be used to a rustic lifestyle to enjoy the trips. Back when I first found out about the school, I was doubtful I would enjoy being dirty for a few days or having very little privacy. Now that I’ve experienced these challenges for myself, I know that there is always a way to freshen up, and when it comes to privacy, everyone is very respectful, after all we’re all in the same boat anyways." - Claire Fraser 2013

Claire will attend NSCAD in the fall.

Zoe McIntyre
5 & 7 Day Coastal Expeditions, Leading Crew, Volunteer, Boat-building

"Though I can’t remember how exactly I came to learn of the Sea School (having originally dismissed it as far too challenging to even consider), I distinctly recall going in 2011 to the Sea School offices to register for my first trip, and, perhaps more importantly, to see some photos of Elizabeth Hall – a move that later spared me the disappointment of arriving in Lunenburg expecting to board the Picton Castle. But even so, I knew very little about the Sea School, and had no idea it would still be a part of my world two years down the road. At the risk of sounding glib and cliché, I really do consider my first trip to have been a turning point in my life, one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve ever had. Though I’m naturally introverted and prefer contemplation to socializing, I gained a lot of self-confidence over the course of that week and befriended people with whom I still talk today (albeit not very often). I also had the opportunity to learn many new and interesting things, and was provided with a front row seat to the single most ear-splitting display of thunder I have ever experienced.

Challenges may abound at the Sea School, but none are insurmountable. Whether it be the large number of people on board, the high-pitched whine of the mosquitoes, or the singularly unpleasant smell of the head, people can typically find an obstacle tailor-fit to their insecurities. But who’s to say that’s a bad thing? The boat’s high population density, for instance, makes you appreciate the home you have, and the time spent outdoors leads to a renewed appreciation of nature: I’ve always found looking towards the endless stretch of water to be a much-needed respite from what feels at times like an unusually chaotic game of Twister. Granted, living in close quarters with a group of strangers might appear daunting at first, but there’s nothing more amusing than watching people bond over the simplest things – the headache that is the eating gear bucket, a shared hatred for mosquitoes, or, as is often the case, the mild hysteria brought on by sleep-deprivation. Therein lies one of the most magical (and somewhat mystifying) aspects of the Sea School: no matter how opposite the personalities of the people on board, each crew returns at the end of the five or seven days a cohesive unit functioning in spite of – and thanks to – the differing dispositions and methodologies of its members.

This is my first season as Leading Crew, and I feel very fortunate to be able to take the next step in my journey with the Sea School. Though I’d hate to be guilty of wishing away the summer, I nonetheless look forward to my next trip, and highly recommend the Sea School to anyone who likes learning and adventure." - Zoe McIntyre 2013

This fall, Zoe will start her last year of High School. She is interested in studying astrophysics for her undergraduate degree.

Pamela Lee
Sailing Expeditions

"Sea School showed me that community can be formed anywhere -- even on a tiny boat in the middle of the ocean-- and with the most diverse of people. To find one's roots sometimes means losing the ground beneath one's feet -- literally!-- and then learning the rhythm of the vessel that carries you. Through my current work, I am thinking through the philosophical basis of community-building and rootedness in a globalized world."

Pam is currently a PhD student and is teaching philosophy in Sackville, NB, the marshlands of the piping plover.

Doug Karr
Founding Sailing Expedition and Boatbuilding Alumni

"I started getting involved with the Sea School in my teens, helping to build boats over the winter and sailing in the summertime. Something that immediately struck me and has always stayed with me was the way that Crane and the other staff members were able to always keep cool in the face of any obstacle, be it a power tool misbehaving in the hands of a teenager, a dangerous maneuver onboard the Dorothea, or a pack of hungry sharks off the side of the boat. Almost every challenge was met with an easy smile and some quiet words of advice, never taking over the reigns or loosing their cool. That kind of leadership is hard to come by, and has been absolutely invaluable in my work leading a crew into the crazy realms of independent film production. I can't express how grateful I am that I had a chance to be a part of the Sea School and how incredibly helpful those experiences have been for me ever since."

Doug is a film writer/director currently living in New York. After fifteen years of documentary and narrative filmmaking, he has just completed production on his first feature-length film two weeks ago. The film, Art Machine, a coming of age dark comedy about a child prodigy painter wrestling with a bipolar disorder, stars Joseph Cross (Milk, Running with Scissors), Jessica Szohr (Gossip Girl, Piranha 3D) and Joey Lauren Adams (Big Daddy, Chasing Amy) and was shot mostly in Brooklyn.

Nick Windt
Sailing Expeditions, Take it Outside

"Sea School sailing trips are wicked. I love the high winds and power of sailing on the small boats. I have always loved being outside and the Sea School offers an unstructured teaching approach that I can really identify with. It's a hard core trip but I am convinced that anyone can do it."

Hailing from the shores of LaHave, Nova Scotia, Sea School leading crew and alumni participant Nick is 18 years old. This past summer, Nick sailed as Leading Crew on our 21-day sailing expedition. Nick has recently purchased his own Wayfarer wooden 16 foot sailboat.

Nick was introduced to the Sea School when he was 13 by one of our instructors. His previous sailing experience was minimal through the LaHave Yacht club. In his short duration with the Sea School, he has attended 5 sailing trips, 3 wilderness courses and has connected with the Schooner Virginia for two 3 week journeys in 2008 and the Bark Europa in 2009 for a trans-Atlantic crossing from Halifax to Ireland.

In the off season, Nick is passionate about learning wilderness survival skills. He is looking forward to spending more time on the water in his new boat and hopes to eventually spend a winter on a tall ship overseas.