Beautiful Ships and a Beautiful Cause!
Caribbean Sail Training (CST) was started and incorporated in 2004 by Jan Roosens (President) and Fred Thomas (Secretary), as a registered non-profit/charity foundation. It provides education and sail training to Caribbean-based youths and financially supports over 75 member vessels.
The Islander asks Jan Roosens how CST came about
Jan was a regular visitor to Granada since the eighties. It was also the home base of Fred Thomas, who was well known in the Caribbean sailing community. Fred had been responsible for the restoration of some of the finest classic yachts in the Caribbean. Jan explains how, when he was there in 2004, he discussed the idea of forming a Caribbean Sail Training foundation. It would be aimed at helping to provide education and sail training to young people of all nationalities, cultures, religions and social backgrounds – especially those born and/or living in the Caribbean. Fred agreed it was a great idea, and (CST) was started and incorporated at the Bel Air Plantation that same year!
The association also supports the CST member vessels (over 75 vessels are members) with funds and material sponsoring, harbor fees, clearance and other fees they may encounter whilst cruising in the Caribbean.
In 2007, Jan asked Fred to cooperate in the creation of the Grenada Classic Regatta (Jan created the earlier St. Maarten-St. Martin Classic Yacht Regatta), and the first Grenada Classic Regatta was held in 2008. When Fred passed away in 2012, CST was transferred to St.Maarten-St.Martin.
Financial support for youths and CST vessels
Caribbean Sail Training receives donations from businesses, private individuals and other organizations. This provides youngsters with sponsorship to board ships and yachts as trainees.
Many of the Caribbean youth, or their parents and family, do not have the funds needed to enroll on a sailing course; this is where CST can help.
The organization selects cooperating tall ships, square riggers, large yachts, and even race boats to take youngsters on their voyages. CST contributes to the liveaboard expenses, travel to and from the vessels, and also the general running costs of these wonderful ships. CST’s ultimate goal is to one day build, restore, or acquire a tall ship of its own. This would facilitate sail training and educational programs at sea all year round.
For now, CST is working out a 1-month program for Caribbean youth on a charter vessel. This should take place from either December 2023 or the beginning of 2024. Talks with several sail training vessel operators, schools and government officials are underway.
Check it out at:https://www.classatsea.org
Over the years since its inauguration, CST has placed hundreds of kids as trainees on its member vessels; but also on cargo ships, race boats and even on mega yachts. “For many kids,” Jan explains, “sail training is simply a great adventure. For others, it’s a life-changing experience that has led to a maritime career, with trainees becoming captains of a tall ship and even a superyacht. Several vessels from Holland, like the Wylde Swan, along with vessels from the USA, UK and other countries, are now sailing every winter season in the Caribbean with kids undergoing sail training and studies”
Roosens says, “We are limited with the money, but are lucky that we, the family, are in the marine business with a few companies. Quite a lot of sponsoring comes from us. In addition, some of the vessels are sometimes kind enough to offer the sail training free of charge, or at a reduced cost. People from the general public who pay a yearly 100 euro fee to be a CST member are also helping. A Dutch student, Emma Boer, set up a campaign last year to collect money that we are now using to offer four youngsters a 2-week sail training voyage from St. Martin to the Virgin Islands and back, on board the ”EENDRACHT” in January”.
Later in the season, CST will start a campaign to raise money through tax-deductible donations. Businesspeople and also owners of mega and superyachts will be contacted, some of them being well-known philanthropists. “Hopefully, they will be able to donate a little bit of money.
This will help us do more and be able to place more youngsters on ships, which is, of course, very important,” Roosens said.
The first mega yacht to cooperate was MY Berzinc with Captain Bernard Vivegnis. SY Sherakhan later followed suit. Youngsters enjoyed the day as millionaires and were treated with watersports, a buffet, and of course, a full guide of the yachts during a cruise around the waters of St. Martin and Anguilla. Even short trips like those have proven to be impactful, as a few kids went on later to follow marine-related studies.
Past events and sailing adventures
Many sail training vessels make a stop at St. Martin-St. Maarten because of the duty-free status of the island. Cheaper fuel prices; provisioning; spare parts; etc; are also available there. They also visit other Islands like Martinique and Guadeloupe, Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica, the Virgins and others. One of the regular visitors to St. Martin is the Picton Castle. Captain Dan Moreland will set sail with this ship for the 8th around-the-world trip in the coming weeks! St. Maarten is also regularly graced by the visits of Tall Ships Sorlandet, Wylde Swan, Denmark, Eendracht, Eye of the Wind, Oosterschelde, Morgenster, Christian Radich and many, many others.
Becoming a donor
Sailing on the CST member vessels is not only about teaching youngsters how to sail.
The sailing programs provide the opportunity to study on board and help with personal development and teamwork ability. Sail training teaches the qualities of seamanship, camaraderie, pride, humility, bravery, strength and grace. So many times we’ve had parents say that their kids had “grown up” in a short while -and only for the better- after a sail training trip.
Caribbean Sail Training needs the financial and general support of private individuals, businesses, superyacht owners and philanthropists to contribute to keep the organization alive. You can help support CST and consequently change and improve the lives of many young people.
Additional information is available on the following websites:
Or contact CST by phone if you are interested to donate on +590690629955