Thankful notes from the BDTS…

November 29, 2016 – From the desk of the BDTS HQ…

Aside from the live blue spruce Christmas tree, some crows and seagulls the Black Dog Wharf is empty today.  No snow yet but winter weather arrived a little over a week ago with a prolonged cold west wind.  Once again its the “off season” here on the Vineyard Haven waterfront,  time to continue the planning for 2017 and beyond but also to look back on the time’s that have gotten us here and to give thanks.

Firstly, we are thankful for the continued support of our passengers and customers.  Our business of overnight camps, school programs, charters and daysails is the only thing that fuels the engine. As season number 54 nears I hope that all of our passengers, from 1964 until now realize they are part of the timeline of the Shenandoah and Alabama and collectively allow them to continue.  During my time back onboard in 2016 I made a point to tell each group of passengers this.

A massive “thank you” the the crew of 2016, hailing from Calgary, Washington, California, Ireland, Kentucky, Vermont, Montana and beyond…  Both returning and new arrivals they are the transmitters of the positive experience we aim for for all of our guests and passengers.  In exchange for their commitment, energy and hard work I hope that their time spent onboard our fleet.  Its a combination of things that make a crew member a great member of the team – a passion for the experience so that it can be felt by the passengers, a commitment to the company, their ship and shipmates and the consistent approach of a pro.  The 2016 team showed all of these and I am grateful.

Personally I am thankful for the opportunity to work within a family business with my dad.  I take my lead and direction for him.  His involvement with his ship and company is based in his passion for them – pure and simple.  Going into his 54th season he maintains the country’s longest-standing relationship with the Shenandoah of any captain and vessel.  Him and his vessel’s time together spans generations…  I realize that just as the Shenandoah and Alabama are the some of the few remaining ships from another era, so is Captain Robert S. Douglas.  The mold has been broken and there will not be another as genuine, committed and honest in his pursuit of enjoyment, both for him and his passengers as himself.  But the Shenandoah is not in a museum – it remains totally accessible.  It will be getting ready for 2017 over the coming months, and Captain Douglas will be there along the way and onboard when passengers step over the rail to kick of season #54.

Winter Weather & Summer Camps

Vineyard Haven, MA – A coastal storm passes through New England today and as I’m typing here at the Black Dog Tall Ships HQ wind and gusts from the SW are shaking the building, howling and blowing spray downwind across Vineyard Haven harbor… Shenandoah and Alabama are secure on their moorings. The New England fishing fleet is now dealing with 50knot+ winds offshore – a classic winter afternoon with ferry service to Woods Hole shut down…

A far reach from a picture perfect summer day out on Vineyard Sound, heading out for a week-long adventure with a boatload of excited youngsters. With that in mind, the schedule for the 2012 “Kids Cruise” summer camp has been released and familes have begun making reservations. The weeks being offered are as follows:

July 15th
July 22nd
July 29th
August 5th

These are amazing opportunities for children between the ages of 9 and 16 years old. Onboard the Shenandoah, these six-day sailing adventures are experiences that really can’t be duplicated anywhere else… Our passengers get to become part of the working crew of the ship, learning the basic skills of sailing and seamanship, make great friends and sail onboard the world’s only square rigged schooner that operates without an engine while having the best week of their summer vacation! A literal time machine, the Shenandoah continues a type of traditional sailing that was once so common, but now has almost completely vanished with time.

Our passengers are kids and sailing needs to be FUN above everything else! The Black Dog Tall Ships embraces this which is linked directly to the success of the camp program. For those whose children have sailed with us before, we look forward to having them come onboard again in 2012 (when the weather will be far from what’s rolling through Vineyard Sound today). For those who are interested, please visit for details on the “Kids Cruise” Summer Camps.

Happy New Year everyone!