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Maritime Heritage Alliance

Basic crew training

Basic Crew Training

The Basic Crew Training Program prepares adults 18 years and over to sail as deckhands on the Maritime Heritage Alliance’s schooner Madeline.

 The classes are a mix of classroom presentations and hands-on, skill training exercises. This is followed by on-board training.

A $50 training fee covers the cost of the training manual and other costs. On-board training begins in June.

  • MHA crew work as volunteer sailing and maintenance crew on MHA’s tall ships, which offer Community and Heritage sails on West Grand Traverse Bay to the public at no cost.
  • Madeline travels to ports on the Great Lakes to provide dockside educational tours and programs.
  • In 2013, Madeline participated in the Great Lakes Tall Ship Challenge in Bay City, MI and Chicago, IL and in The War of 1812 commemoration activities in Penetanguishene and Collingwood, ON and on Lake Erie.
  • In 2015, Madeline traveled to Fairport, Ohio where the original Madeline was built. A festival was held to honor MHA's Madeline's 25th anniversary!

If you are interested in signing up for the training sessions, please contact the MHA office to register.

Dates for the 2017 Basic Crew Training (BCT) have not yet been announced.





Basic Crew Training is intended to instruct trainees in the basic skills and knowledge necessary to serve as a deckhand on MHA's tall ship, the Schooner Madeline. No previous sailing experience is required.

Course Description:

*Five classroom sessions

*On-board training conducted on Madeline, including

     -four on-board sessions

     -an overnight in July

     -two Heritage or Community Sails as trainee/deckhand

     -participation in annual boat maintenance work sessions and commissioning/decommissioning

Additional training is required to crew on the other MHA boats. The learning curve is high for new crew members.

Attendance at all classes is expected.

Requirements for basic trainees:

*Current membership in the Maritime Heritage Alliance

*Completion of a minimum of eight hours of volunteer work for MHA, six hours of on-boat maintenance

*Be at least 18 years of age (Youths 14-17 years can be trained if partnered with a trainee-parent or other adult, with parental approval.)

*Be physically capable of carrying out the duties of a deckhand.

Additional requirements:

*Trainees must purchase a copy of the Crew Training Manual for $50 (which also covers other training costs)

*Trainees are encouraged to purchase the following:

     -a good quality knife with a marlinspike

     -a US Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD)

     -good foul-weather gear

*Crew members purchase and wear a crew shirt while serving as a crew member for Heritage and Community Sails, dockside appearances and programs. We suggest that new crew purchase their PFD after the classroom sessions.

*Trainees and crew members pay their own transportation and food expenses for all MHA Tall Ship events and related activities.

*All crew members are required to maintain a current Health Information form and sign a Release of Liability form.

Training Outcome:

At the conclusion of the classroom and on-board Basic Training course, trainees shall demonstrate their knowledge and skills to be designated as deckhands. Deckhands may volunteer to serve as Madeline crew for Heritage and Community Sails on Grand Traverse Bay and on longer voyages.

Specifics regarding additional training and crewing on Champion and other small craft will be announced at a later date.

Additional training and experience and regular participation in the maintenance activities is required to be designated as Able Bodied (AB), Mate-in-Training (MIT) or Mate.

For more information:
Call the Maritime Heritage Alliance at 231-946-2647 or email at info@maritimeheritagealliance.org for additional information, for schedule updates and to pre-register for activities when required.

Questions regarding Basic Crew Training may also be addressed to the Basic Crew Trainer, Nancy Thornton, at 248-520-0614 or nthornton@centos.net


Maritime Heritage Alliance Basic Crew Training Manual, rev. 2014

Advanced crew training




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Maritime Heritage Alliance
13268 S West Bay Shore Dr
Traverse City, MI 49684