How We Knew Her

fullsizeoutput_4f9Her name is the Vela. She is a three-masted schooner with fifteen sails and a history since 1988. Currently, she serves Island Windjammers, who are—as far as I can gather—some sort of cruise company.

That isn’t how I knew her.

Her name, to me and to the many other incredible people who sailed her prior to 2014, is the SSV Tole Mour, or simply the Tole. She was a summer camp vessel operated by a crew of teenage campers and supervised by trained adults. She was my home for four summers, and we all loved her.

But then, nothing good lasts forever. Continue reading “How We Knew Her”


In For the Long Haul


The Tole Mour was a labor of love. The times I spent on our beloved ship were possibly the best of my life, but you couldn’t expect to get something out of nothing when sailing those waters.

Part of being a camper on the Tole meant that you had to do a lot of the work. Most jobs weren’t just left to the professional crew—they taught their jobs to us. Each one of us had a sail assignment for the setting and striking of each sail.

The intricate details of it all, I don’t remember well. Back home, I have a whole travel journal—as I call it—detailing the trivia of my experiences.

I’m sure that somewhere among those pages, I have all fifteen sails listed from memory. I’d do so for you here, but there would be no way to prove that I didn’t just look them up.

Anyhow… Continue reading “In For the Long Haul”

What’s in a Name? (Part 2)

PancakesLike many Tole stories, this one has a surprise ending. What sets it apart, however, is that it happened purely by accident.

Most of the stories I will tell you involve some kind of learning curve. My climb to the topmast shrouds, the time I drove Red-Haired Mary, all of our snorkeling expeditions…there were surprises, but they were all planned experiences. (Experiences I will write all about in later posts.)

This is the story of how I came to be named after a fruit. Continue reading “What’s in a Name? (Part 2)”

What’s in a Name? (Part 1)


A rose by any other name may still be a rose, but is the Tole by any other name still the Tole?

(In case you don’t remember my introductory post on my experiences aboard the Tole, I’m talking about a three-masted, fifteen-sailed schooner named the Tole Mour. I sailed her with fantastic crew of student campers and professionals for four summers.)

The Tole Mour, known to those who loved her as the Tole, was—for some of us—a sanctuary of love, friendship, adventure, and lessons learned. And it seems to me that, based on her history, she has always been such a haven. Continue reading “What’s in a Name? (Part 1)”