Happy birthday Capstan! That's right, ten! Ten seasons rich and varied in encounters, changes of direction... For the occasion, we thought a quick look in the rear-view mirror would make us proud of how far we've come so far.
It all began in 2014 with Simon, our Founder and Executive Director, and Mariano, Director of Social Strategy, on the shores of Sorel, where after three days of pre-departure training a few young people boarded an 85-foot tall ship, the EcoMaris 1. Ten years later, the boat welcomes more than 60 young people each season, and our team supports them in their projects throughout the year. When you think about it, it's a bit of a success story... and we're proud of it!
However, the idea of bringing together several strangers on a sailboat, most of whom have no knowledge of the sailing world, is an adventure in itself. Safety, cohabitation, fears, unforeseen weather conditions - a whole host of factors that could have made potential partners clench their jaws. Yet Services Québec believed in the project, and thanks to its funding, we've been able to oversee all program operations for several years now.
Capstan 3 2023 gathered for pre-departure training days in Rimouski.
"It took years of work and adjustments before we found the right counsellors, a good preparation process and were able to create cohorts that were very heterogeneous in their composition, but complementary in their cohabitation."
Over the years, we've seen a growing number of our participants become part of the team, both at sea and on land. Today, we have 5 crew members from the program, including Alice. Her participation in the program was the gateway to the world of sailing, its voyages and its stories... its training too! Since 2018, she's come back to work with us every season, and when she boards a Capstan, it's a return to her roots.
"It amazes me, because I know what people are about to experience. I get as much fun out of working today as I did when I took part in the past. For me, it's giving back what I've received.” - Alice Zerini-Le Reste
Alice carrying out repairs on the mainmast during the Brion23 expedition.
For Mariano, as for the whole team, the work of the crew is what makes this program such a success. It's one thing to be responsible for a ship and the safety of its passengers, but quite another to do it in the context of a social program. Every member of our crew knows what to do, either through experience and a sense of humanity, or because they themselves were participants in the program in the first place. This special status contributes greatly to our ship being a safe space, both materially and humanely.
"Our main goal is to make participants feel that they don't come here being judged or treated differently, but that they feel welcomed for who they are and to work on their strengths." Mariano Lopez
Finally, for Marc Pelletier, the program's coordinator, Capstan must now seek greater diversity in the cohorts by trying to reach participants in outlying neighborhoods of Montreal or any other major city in Quebec.
"My wish is to broaden access to the program by taking it further and further afield, to benefit as many young people as possible. We want to facilitate access to the river and to sailing. We want to create this feeling of belonging to the program, to the cohort, for all past and future participants." - Marc Pelletier
Marc brings out his photographic talents to immortalize every departure!
The program has a bright future ahead of it, and we're looking forward to an ever-increasing number of trips during the season! In fact, the next trip may be waiting for you! We've just opened the application process for the 2024 season, so come on in!
See you soon,
the EcoMaris team.