As darkness descends upon us, we in the Northern Hemisphere have found many ways to bring light and warmth into our lives. Celtic Fairy lights, Hanukkah candles, Tamil oil lamps, Christmas LEDs, Bhuddist lanterns, Yule logs, and wreaths adorned with lighted candles worn by Swedish girls singing at the feast of Saint Lucia–these are examples of Winter lights and associated stories that reflect experiences and beliefs of diverse peoples and cultures.

Let there be light…” , the English translation from Hebrew in the first book of Genesis, can be read as one expression of ancient tradition. It sounds like a command, a pronouncement, declaring that there shall be light, truth, knowledge. To many, especially at this dark time, it can be read more like a plea: Please let the light shine.

After a few days’ delay, the light shines atop Mt Livermore on Angel Island. Despite cancellation of the Sausalito lighted boat parade, in which our brigantine Matthew Turner was scheduled to sail for the first time, its mast and yards will have lights strung by the furloughed crew. “Let there be light” is our expression of hope.

When the pandemic first threatened our shores last Spring, It would have been easier to send everyone packing, to shut down completely, and to delay everything related to our educational mission until the pandemic ebbed, the fog burned off, and the coast was completely clear to sail. But that is not who we are.

We are like the girl from Canal Barrio in San Rafael who was reluctant last Summer to climb the ratlines and go aloft, but did so and sang joyfully when she reached the top. We are like the boy from Marin City who feared going on a boat, but returned from a Fall afternoon sail beaming with excitement. We are like the school children who could not go to class, but donned their masks and came to our shop instead to learn math and physics principles involved in building  boats, and to go out on the water to experience the science of sailing. The courage and confidence exhibited by these young people inspired us to be creative and carry on. And with your help, our vessels were the only educational tall ships sailing on the Pacific Coast, with lights glowing for months.

We are now compelled to shut down everything but that which is needed to protect our vessels and be prepared to safely sail again. All but a single flame is kept burning so that it may ignite others to make our future very bright.

The light shines in the darkness,  and the darkness has not overcome it.”  John 1:5

May your light  continue to shine,  Steven Woodside, Executive Director