It was an exciting day for dozens of aspiring mariners, who returned to Victoria after a week of sailing across the Pacific Northwest as part of an inaugural journey.

More than 57 young sailors returned to the Inner Harbour on Friday after a five day trip through the Gulf Islands.

“We’re all really lucky to be on it,” said one participant.

Since 1974, the Sail and Life Training Society (SALTS) has been teaching young people the fine art of sailing tall ships.

According to the organization, 1,700 young people aged 13 to 25 take part in programs each year.

Participants tie knots, hoist sails and scrub the decks, but on these ships they learn so much more.

“Our focus is on youth mentorship so teaching life skills, teamwork and work ethic,” said executive director Loren Hagerty of SALTS. “We also teach how to resolve conflicts and how to relate with one another.”

“We’re intentionally building older style boats like this just because of the way it brings young people together,” said captain Tony Anderson of Pacific Grace.

“People have to work together to make the boat go.”

Trainees aboard the Pacific Grace and Pacific Swift ships hailed from Sea Cadet programs across nine different provinces in Canada.

“I learned a lot about sailing big boats like this rather than the little ones we usually sail,” explained one participant.

“It was a great opportunity and the people here are amazing and the instructors were all really great,” said another.

Forever changed on their voyage through fair winds and following seas while foraging friendships they won’t soon forget.

Ceilidh Millar