We are excited to feature the Sail and Life Training Society (SALTS) in our latest Non-Profit Highlight. David Eggert, SALTS’ Director of Development and Relief Captain, shed light on the organization’s dedication to the mentorship of youth.
SALTS — Training Young People, By the Sea, For Life
SALTS gives young people (age 13-25) the opportunity to develop their confidence, character, and teamwork skills while sailing traditional tall ships on the west coast of British Columbia. They believe that overcoming challenges at sea brings everyone together as a genuine community and enables personal growth.
Enjoy our conversation with David of SALTS!
How did you get involved with SALTS?
My involvement started with a day sail in 1979 and then a 10-day voyage trip to Desolation Sound in 1981. I was hooked right away; the onboard community life was transformational, I experienced real change and witnessed the same in my shipmates. I started volunteering, became a crew member, and eventually a Captain. Since 2006 I have been part of the shoreside team and now hold the roles of Director of Development and Relief Captain.
Describe your team and all of those involved with SALTS.
Our 8-member Board of Directors oversees our operations. We have 22 staff and crew members, who keep the organization afloat both in roles onboard and ashore. Dozens of volunteers support us shoreside with maintenance as well as on summer trips with leadership. Most of our staff and crew members were drawn to, and stay at, SALTS because of the impact the organization has enriching the lives of youth.
What is a current project that your team is working on?
The Pacific Swift, built at Expo ’86 in Vancouver, is at a time where major refit projects are starting. Coming up, the ship’s decks, deck beams and deck houses will need to be replaced. This is a big project: wood will be dried throughout the year and should be ready for installation by the winter, overall materials will cost $150,000, a labour estimate for replacing the smaller foredeck after-deck in 2019/2020 is $50,000, and the labour estimate for replacing the larger fore-deck in 2020/2021 is unknown at this time.
We are also hoping to complete the design and engineering report for our upcoming third ship in 2019; this will allow a bid package to go out for tender to our shortlisted shipyards and then construction can start. We are financially prepared to start construction of the hull but we have a lot of money to raise to see the ship completed and in operation. A third ship will equip us with berths for 850 additional youth each year and give us the opportunity to restart our offshore voyages.
What challenges have you and your team overcome?
We haven’t been able to do an offshore trip since 2007. These trips, 10-22 months long, consisting of several legs, and took youth around the Pacific or across the Atlantic oceans. The intensity of the longer ocean passages and heavy weather had a great impact on trainees. The close confines of shipboard life push trainees to the limits of their endurance and cause them to face fears. The sea teaches trainees respect for the elements and their shipmates, teamwork, self-confidence and builds character. Pacific Grace and Pacific Swift do not meet the new Transport Canada criteria for offshore voyaging.. We hope that a new ship, will allow us to offer these trips again. In the meantime, we have become more creative with our 5- to 10-day coastal program trips and have sailed as far as Alaska.
What has been the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced working with SALTS?
Meeting up with alumni of the offshore program has been very rewarding. Many of them sailed with us several times over the years and came back as volunteers or as crew members! Hearing about the impact that the program had on their lives has been rewarding. One fellow came up to me at and said, “I just have to thank you. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of the impact of the program. Whether it’s related to my work, my family relationships, or how I deal with colleagues or clients, I find myself drawing from the experience of sailing with SALTS.” That is probably one of the most rewarding moments in recent history.
How can others contribute to SALT’s work?
We are always looking for new volunteers to clean donated boats. It’s a huge encouragement to us when people get involved in the maintenance of our ships. If you don’t have time to give, you can contribute to the efforts of SALTS by referring kids who could benefit from experiencing a trip, giving to our bursary program, becoming a sponsor, donating a boat, giving to our maintenance funds or the new ship fund, or giving consideration to your estate planning or planned giving. Doing so consistently and walking with us monthly would be great blessing.
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