Tabor Boy sets course for Caribbean ahead of 100th anniversary
Marion — Next year marks the 100th anniversary of Tabor Academy’s iron-hulled schooner, and the historic vessel isn’t slowing down.
Last week, “Tabor Boy” left New Bedford Harbor headed south. Every three years, about 90 students use the ship as base for the school’s Caribbean Studies program.
Using the latest technology, students study corral reef ecology, according to Program Director and Tabor professor John Crosby.
“The students are basically research scientists,” Crosby said, noting the school is partners with the National Parks Service and the U.S. Department of Interior.
Students monitor the health of the corral reefs in the area through documentation and analysis of water chemistry. Information students gather is shared with the federal agencies.
“These kids have a firm grasp on new technology. They are smart. They are motivated. They can dive like fish. We put a lot of cool, expensive technology in their hands and let them go to work,” said Crosby.
Known as the “School by the Sea,” Tabor is committed to developing “School on the Sea” programs, and the ship is an integral part of that mission, Crosby explained.
Tabor Boy was built in 1914 near Amsterdam to navigate the North Sea.
Christened “Pilot Schooner #2,” the ship was captured by the Germans when they occupied the Netherlands during World War II.
After the war, an American businessman purchased the vessel and sailed it the United States. In 1954, he donated the ship to Tabor Academy.
Tabor Boy is still seeing history be made. This year marks the first time that a female student was tapped to serve as Tabor Boy’s executive officer.
As second in command, senior Holly Francis of Marion works closely with Captain James Geil. She was on board last week to deliver the ship safely to the Caribbean alongside a crew of alumni. A burst of bad weather delayed the ship’s departure last week as Francis and the crew waited a few days for storms to pass.
While it was docked in Fairhaven, she reflected on the ship’s role in student life.
“The ship has affected a lot of students,” she said. “Captain Geil recently tried to figure just how many students have sailed aboard the ship. There must have been thousands.”
Francis herself took part in freshman orientation aboard the Tabor Boy and also participates in the school’s sailing program.
She was recently accepted into the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. She hasn’t committed to attending the prestigious school, but is sure of one thing though.
“Wherever my career takes me I know I will be near the water,” she said.
Throughout 2014 the school will celebrate Tabor Boy’s 100th anniversary with several events planned. Next year also marks the 60th anniversary of when the ship arrived at Tabor Academy. For more information on Tabor Boy click here.