STV Pathfinder

Jun 10

Tall ship sailing on the Pathfinder

Last weekend just before I got run down with a miserable summer cold and before all the G20 nonsense in Toronto I had my first tall ship experience. This was through the Harbourfront Centre Sailing club so it wasn’t a stand around and watch other people do the work type affair. We actually got to learn how this shipped worked.


The boat was Pathfinder, a brigantine along the Toronto Harbourfront. You may have seen this boat docked next to it’s sister boat Playfair and on the other side of the same pier the larger Empire Sandy. This boat is normally for youths, so it was a great chance to finally check out this boat which I have walked past many times. The boats belong to the Toronto Brigantine, a charity organization that provides Tall Ship Adventures for Youth.

“Toronto Brigantine Incorporated (TBI) is a Canadian registered charity mandated to provide experiential learning, develop leadership and life skills through tall ship sail training programs for youth 13 -18 years of age.”

We spent several hours on the boat that Sunday evening. The first 30 to 40 minutes was dedicated to boat safety. Then we were all assigned tasks and pushed off from the foot of Queens Quay and Spadina. The trip consisted of a lot of “pull this, no not that one, this one”. To give you an idea, take a look at the pictures below. Just some of the many halyards, sheets and lines aboard the Pathfinder.


Belaying Pins

All those wooden pegs with line coiled and tied around them are called belaying pins. There purpose is to allow us to make fast the many lines aboard the boat. There is a method of wrapping and coiling that allows you to quickly get the line off if needed. The pins are also replaceable, and when one asks why, the answer is they break sometimes as one did on our trip.

Here is some video of the sails being raised on the Pathfinder.

Climbing aloft

Not only did we get to hoist the sails, but anyone who wanted too, also got to climb aloft. This involved climbing up the shrouds which have rope ladders attached to them called Ratlines. The safety rule while climbing the ratlines was always have three points of contact. Two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot. This safety rule should probably be applied to anyone climbing any ladder. I quickly volunteered to climb up along without about half the crew aboard. We each took turns climbing up and down.

Climbing Ratlines

Me climbing the ratlines

Climbing Ratlines

Some of the club members didn’t join us on the Pathfinder but thought it would be fun buzzing past us. Eventually this resulted in cannon fire on the aggressor which was a J24. A sling shot was quickly deployed and loaded with water balloons and the J24 took a hard hit to it’s port side. The J24 quickly halted it’s relentless pursuit and headed back to it’s home port.


The day was fantastic and I think we all learned a lot. While I would definitely go out on a boat like this again, I still want my 35 foot cruising sailboat, or even a J24, they are lot less work.

Of course this post wouldn’t be complete without some pictures of the Galley.



These doors must always be kept closed while under sail. If the boat has a hull breach it can actually stay afloat with one compartment filled with water.

More video and a gallery with a few more shots