Posts Tagged '1812 Bicentennial'

Sail Training Scholarship

By Peter Huston

It is an amazing experience to be aboard a tall ship like the Brig Niagara as her sails unfurl and the hull begins to surge forward, the rig creaking as the sails fill. Just being a passenger aboard as the ship begins to move ahead under sail is an inspiring moment. You can feel the power in the rig, and the excitement on the deck as the crew busily works all around you to hoist, trim, adjust and secure the lines in a repeated symphony of orchestrated commands and responses.

The Brig Niagara is one of the most majestic of tall ships designs from the early19th century. Two hundred years ago ships like it shared the waterways with graceful schooners, brigantines, and barques. Standing on its’ deck you can let yourself imagine for just a moment that you have gone back in time.

People of all ages are often amazed and spellbound by tall ships when they come into port. For many just going aboard for the first time is an eye opening experience. Some wonder about the life at sea and consider the romantic notion of being a volunteer or perhaps taking courses to become trained crew.

Raising the sails

Raising the sails

But even though I have been sailing aboard small boats since I was a young boy, I quickly recognized when I first went aboard a tall ship that it is altogether different from my other sailing experiences. It takes a large crew of trained sailors to carry out the wishes of the captain. There is a complex set of skills and verbal commands required and an absolute need for teamwork and communication to make this ship sail effectively.

Perhaps a little known fact about the current US Brig Niagara is that the ship’s primary mission is sail training. “Sail Training” is a step-by-step process designed by the Brig Niagara staff to train willing students to become a crewmember. Over the past 30 years the Niagara has trained hundreds, perhaps thousands of crew. Many of their crew has gone on to sail aboard other tall ships going around the globe or transporting “semester at sea” students around the Caribbean. Some have become mates, even captains.

Over the years the National Park Service, the Perry Group, Chamber of Commerce and the many businesses here in Put-in-Bay have embraced the Brig Niagara as a crucial part of sharing our unique history with others visiting the islands. No other ship embodies the teamwork and skill required to sail a tall ship, any tall ship. The crew and officers of the Brig Niagara are known around the world for their premier sail-training program. We are working hard to promote their ongoing mission on the great lakes.

It is incumbent upon us, the supporters of the Brig Niagara, to keep the sail-training program healthy and growing. Part of that mission is to find and train new young students the basics about sailing aboard a tall ship. The Perry Group, along with the help of Flagship Niagara League are interested in promoting this amazing connection between the Brig Niagara and Lake Erie Islands by establishing and underwriting an annual scholarship for one student from our area to be aboard the Brig Niagara for 4 weeks during the summer.

We think this is one of the most important educational projects we can promote and participate in, a that will not only help a student learn a new skill, but promote the Brig Niagara which is so important to our history and tourism here in Put-in-Bay. If you’re between 16 and 23 or know someone how is and want to learn more about this scholarship let us know. This scholarship will require an essay and a keen interest in learning seamanship.

And if you’re a parent or philanthropically inclined and would like to support this scholarship we want to hear from you. Email us at

Illuminating Peace

It is hard to believe that we are closing in on two hundred years of peace with Canada and Great Britain. So we are excited about creating a harbor illumination this summer, something everyone can participate in to celebrate. This is an event that will capture the imagination and memories of islanders and visitors, something that connects us to our history but extends to our personal celebration as well.


Our Battle of Lake Erie bicentennial observance, which begins this summer, is the prelude to that important anniversary. It was on the eve of Christmas in 1814 when we signed the Treaty of Ghent that ended the War of 1812. Perhaps we take it for granted that the two hard fought wars between the United States and Great Britain left us as firmly entwined allies not enemies. That alliance has been important through out the years, not just during wartime but during peaceful times as well.

As a very young child I lived just out side Buffalo, New York. My Uncle and Aunt lived in a small community in Ontario Canada near the north shore of Lake Erie in a community known as Point Abino. During the summers we would often head to their lakeside house to escape the heat of the summer and enjoy the sandy shores of Crystal Beach. It seemed to me that going to Canada was effortless, no passports, border guards or customs officer.

It was way beyond my understanding at the time to realize that the Treaty of Ghent had solidified that open border that we still enjoy today. In fact in Put-in-Bay we welcome our northern friends every summer that come from Port Stanley, Leamington, Amherstburg and beyond to visit our island.
My Aunt and Uncle have long since passed away, but the memories of those wonderful summers in Point Abino still shine brightly in my mind. I want to remember not only my Aunt and Uncle, but also my mother and father who brought me here to Put-in-Bay for many, many wonderful summers after we moved to Columbus.

So this summer in Put-in-Bay we are going to celebrate our good fortune, that feeling of security we enjoy that has come with an open border and enduring peace, by staging an illumination of the inner harbor. This potentially spectacular event will take place at dusk on September 8th after the Toledo Symphony has concluded its performance.

From the edge of the Monument property to Stone Lab and along the shores of Gibraltar we will have flares deployed every 15 feet. At a prescribed time all the flares will be lit providing an illumination of the harbor that will be visible by land, boat and air. The flares will burn for about 20 minutes allowing for great photos, quiet moments and some heart felt remembrances to be shared.

But in order to have this happen we need your help. Perry’s Victory, Stone Lab and the Village of Put-in-Bay have given us permission to stage this event, but we need your thoughtful involvement as well. Buy a flare, maybe two for your lost loved ones, or for your family that enjoys life here in the Bass Islands. They cost just $10 each and you can write a special quote or memory in our online logbook for the event. Plan to invite friends and family to our island for Historic Weekend and celebrate the Bicentennial.

This first year of the illumination we hope to have at least 500 flares lit. Call, write, go online or email us if you’re onboard, $10 a flare for a memory and moments of thankfulness. We need volunteers, supplies and helpful cooperation from all the businesses and homeowners along the waterfront.
Now, when I think back to the events that unfolded during the War of 1812, I am especially thankful for the bold and brave actions of our Navy and Commodore Perry on that fateful day in September of 1813. Their sacrifice is embodied in our enduring peace with Great Britain and Canada today. Come celebrate!

The Perry Group PO Box 484 Put-in-Bay, Ohio 43456, 419-285-2491

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War of 1812 Final Ceremonies

Perry's Victory Heritage FestivalSeptember 10th, 2015
Today we Celebrate peace with Great Britain and Canada

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Harbor Illumination 2015

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