Victoria Tall Ships Society 2012: An Afternoon with Mallory Todd
The Mallory Todd is no ordinary ship. Sure, the 65-foot schooner has all the intricacies of a ship—the masts, the sails, the delicious woodsy smell—but her unexpected touches tell you she is much more. There are books housed behind antique stained glass, a hand-cast porcelain fireplace that pays homage to the ship builder’s nephew, and all sorts of hidey-holes for food, flashlights and stories.
Legend has it that George Todd designed and built the boat with an around-the-world retirement trip in mind, but his doctor quickly kiboshed his plans. As the boat sat docked in Lake Union, a child wandered down from the nearby Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and asked George for a tour. One tour led to more tours, more tours led to sailing trips, and soon the Mallory Todd had found its true purpose: to brighten lives.
But the Mallory Todd is more than a legend. It’s a living vessel where sailors are sailors, regardless of their age, experience or abilities. Each year, in addition to sunset cruises, corporate retreats and long-haul charters, the ship and its crew donate over 100 cruises to passengers with disabilities, tailoring each journey to the individual group and their particular needs, wishes and limitations.
So when the Victoria Tall Ships Society invited a coworker and I to sail aboard the Mallory Todd, I jumped at the chance. I had read a bit about the schooner and its good works, but nothing had prepared me for how awesome the journey—and the crew—would actually be.
Even to a small dinghy sailor, the world of tall ships is a foreign one. Where do I stand? What do I do? How do I flush the toilet?
But the crew of Mallory Todd instantly put everyone at ease. They joked around, they let us explore, they told us strange stories about hitchhiking seals, and they had an uncanny knack for answering my questions before I could ask them. And when it started pouring, instead of standing miserably in the rain, we all gathered in the covered cabin for an impromptu guitar playing session (never request the Gilligan’s Island theme song, by the way—it’s bad luck).
But best of all, we could participate as little or as much as we felt comfortable. The Mallory Todd is stable and safe, with wide decks that are perfect for helping out, or for kicking back and admiring the scenery. No pressure, just great times. So great, in fact, that I considered stowing myself away in one of the ship’s many mysterious cupboards.
But alas, three hours (and 13 float plane landings later), the sails came down and we motored back into the harbour. A big thank you to the captain and crew of Mallory Todd for having us onboard and to the Victoria Tall Ships Society for organizing the event! Thanks to you, anyone and everyone can take part in this opportunity of a lifetime.