By Tom Henheffer - Monday, February 22, 2010 - 5 Comments
Shipwrecked students survived on rainwater—and Disney songs
“I’m going to cover her in this blanket and I’m going to take her home, and give her a bath and feed her as much as I can possibly feed her.”
Elysha was one of 48 students on the S.V. Concordia, a sailing ship that doubled as a travelling high school and university. A microburst, a sudden massive gust of wind, toppled the three-masted boat off the coast of Brazil late last Thursday evening. It sank in minutes, leaving every soul on board to fight for survival in leaky life rafts for two days and nights.
“We’re just so happy that they’re all okay. It’s a miracle,” says Piller.
After pulling each other from flooded classrooms and cutting the life rafts free, the students and crew were forced to bail constantly to keep shin-deep water from sinking their small boats. As they fought to collect rainwater and survive on rations, many became sick from dehydration, but they managed to keep their spirits high by singing Disney songs.
“There were low points and high points,” says Mark Sinker, the ship’s history and English teacher. “When there was water in the rafts and people were shivering, morale was very low. But overall I think people kept their spirits up.”
Piller, her husband Tony, and three sons, Lucas, Sam and Trevor, stood waiting, wearing their scarves and winter coats, with sleepy grins and hands in their pockets. A few other families were scattered around the airport, holding coffee and sitting at shops with metal gates still drawn shut.
Brent Tripp waited for his brother Jamie, a world traveller who was working as a crewman on the Concordia. Early Friday morning Brent got a call from his mother—at first all he could make out was the word “sink.” He was always afraid something would happen to Jamie, and thought the worst might have finally happened. Eventually his mother told him everything was okay, and his brother called Sunday morning.
“I pick up the phone and there was a quick delay, then ‘hey brother’ came across” says Tripp, his voice quivering slightly. “Both of us had a huge little breakdown.” He added that although he knew his brother was safe physically, it was worrisome to think what psychological toll the accident might have taken. “The next thing we went into was Olympic men’s hockey. So it was kind of nice to know that my brother, the guy that I love so much, he was still there.”
He said he plans to take it easy once they’re reunited.
“I would just like nothing more then to cram in the back seat of our little four door car and just take him to a little restaurant, buy him some lunch and have a beer.”
As the minutes ticked by the concourse started to become a hub of activity. Alumni from previous voyages arrived, holding bristol board signs declaring “Welcome Home Floaties” and “S.V. Concordia Forever.” Dozens of reporters began rushing back and forth. The families were ushered into a secure area, and a mob of camera’s surrounded the door. Cheering could be heard from inside. Emboldened with the spirit their travelling school was meant to instill, the alumni sat in front of reporters, forcing them to back up about 10 steps so they would have room to greet their friends.
In the end, the parents and children decided not to meet with the media, and went out through side gates. But Nigel McCarthy, CEO of the Class Afloat program, did eventually address the crowd.
“Today is a day of celebration,” he said. “There’s been lots of tears and there’s been lots of joy. There have been children jumping up into their parents’ arms. It’s a beautiful day.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 18, 2010 at 10:11 PM - 79 Comments
Standing on a square stage in the middle of the room, grey jacket removed and placed on back of chair. He wears black shoes, dark blue slacks, light blue shirt, sleeves rolled up. He holds the microphone in his left hand, gestures with right. Students seated on all sides, he talks broadly of economic restructuring, innovation, energy efficiency, democratic engagement, social security, China, Brazil, Africa, foreign aid, intellectual property, personal responsibility, productivity, internationalism and education. He promises to be concise, he asks everyone else to be civil. After about 15 minutes he calls for questions. A line of about 16 young people forms behind a microphone set up in the audience.
So has the Liberal leader opted to open his year with a nod to both the past and the future—a return to the university halls from which he came, standing amidst the hopeful young minds of this country’s tomorrow, prefacing a restart to his Prime Ministerial ambitions and perhaps even relaunching the Liberal Party of Canada. In the capital a week before Parliament would have opened, he stood this afternoon before a crowd of 250 at the University of Ottawa. A 20-minute walk from the House of Commons, he attempted to make sense of here, there and everywhere else beyond both.
“One of things, I think, that drives all of politics is anybody who’s in politics always asks the question, ‘Who’s not in the room? Who’s not included? Who doesn’t share? Who doesn’t participate? Who doesn’t benefit from what I’ve got?’ ” he asked. “That’s the core political instinct, in my view. ‘Who’s not in the room? Who’s out in the cold?’ ” Continue…
By Chris Robinson, Takeoffeh.com - Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 2:22 PM - 3 Comments
Wild and wonderful places to go
“Chris’ Top Ten Favourite Places” is a regular feature of top travel destinations selected from Chris Robinson’s personal experience. In a career which has included several of the biggest vacation companies in the world, Chris has travelled to over 150 countries. This week, Chris covers his top ten wild places.
Ah! The call of the wild! Every so often I feel the need to refresh the spirit by experiencing some of the wild and wonderful places that this planet has to offer. None of these places in my Top Ten are easy to get to – they wouldn’t be wild places if they were – but they all repay the effort of travelling there with unique experiences. Continue…
By Philippe Gohier - Monday, June 1, 2009 at 9:58 PM - 8 Comments
Experts try to piece the tragedy together, without the help of a black box, cockpit recorder or confirmation of the wreckage
[UPDATE: Brazilian military pilots have spotted aircraft debris in the area where flight 447 is believed to have gone down. An airplane seat, a life jacket, metallic debris and signs of fuel were found in two areas about 60 kilometres apart in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. However, no signs of life were detected in either area.]
Twenty-four hours after Air France flight 447 disappeared off air traffic controllers’ radar screens, precious little is known about the circumstances surrounding the event. And the bits of information that have come to light provide almost nothing in the way of an explanation about why an aircraft that’s widely considered to be among the safest in its class never reached Paris after departing Rio de Janeiro.
ALSO AT MACLEANS.CA: Searching for wreckage — and answers : Speculation is rampant, but crash investigators in the case of Air France Flight 447 are focused on the facts
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, November 7, 2008 at 12:00 AM - 4 Comments
Now that it’s November, the days are getting darker and so are the movies. This weekend offers a couple of excursions into dark nights of the soul, both feature directing debuts dominated by strong female performers: Il y a longtemps que je t’aime (I’ve Loved You So Long), a French drama about a tortured ex-con, and, an American portrait of a tortured artist. The superior film is the one from France. This is, in fact, shaping up to be an exceptional year for French cinema, even if some titles are taking a while to get to the screen. This year’s Palme d’Or winner in Cannes, (due to open here in January) is a riveting verité drama set in a multi-racial French classroom. And this fall finally saw the Canadian release of the 2006 thriller Ne le dis à personne (Tell No One), one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Now this. . .
I’ve Loved You So Long
It’s been 12 years since Kristin Scott Thomas seduced audiences inThe English Patient, and although she’s done some good work since, her talent has never been properly exploited. Perhaps it’s because her severe beauty and sharp gaze never quite fit the Hollywood mold, or that, in her late 30s, she was already middle-aged according to the dog-years by which movie actresses are measured in America. Well, the French know how to appreciate Englishwomen of a certain pedigree. Just ask Jane Birkin and Charlotte Rampling. And at the age of 48, Scott Thomas— who is fluently bilingual with just a slight accent—has shown up speaking in French in two pictures: in a supporting role as a rich lesbian in Tell No One, and now generating serious Oscar buzz as the star of I’ve Loved You So Long. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 31, 2008 at 5:51 PM - 11 Comments
This week’s asbestos thing is probably difficult to get excited about. A little lacking in relevance to your day-to-day life, what with your kids, your spouse, your job, those leaves that need to be raked, the flavoured tobacco your kids are smoking, Stephane Dion’s permanent tax on everything, Angelina Jolie’s marital status, the decline in the housing market, your retirement savings, international terrorism, the socialist who is about to be elected president of the United States, Madonna’s marital status, and the financial crisis that will ultimately leave your children with nothing to eat but flavoured tobacco already demanding so much of your attention.
So here’s another way to look at it. How you feel about asbestos defines how you feel about the fundamental human responsibilities of your government. It’s a political inkblot test. Continue…