"I always wanted to have a boat. I'm a well-rounded person. That's just something I want to do," said Jamel Triggs, 19 years old. "I hope to explore it in a career."
In eight sessions, the students learn the history, vocabulary and basic skills needed to serve as a crew member on a ship.
"I learn how to lift the sails and when somebody, is like overboard, like man overboard, we help them like with CPR and first aid," said Saffira Barrett, 16 years old.
"We learn like all the different sails and how to move the boat and how to protect the passengers and just everything you would think that you need to know and it's just so much detail," said Rocky Bingham, 18 years old.
They'll also earn a certification that will immediately qualify them for employment in the maritime industry.
"That could be a water taxi here in Chicago. That could be on the Norwegian cruise line. Any thing they learn here, they should be able to take out to the maritime industry and apply directly," said Orion Couling, Tall Ship Windy, educational director.
The students say there are also social benefits.
"I think this is a good experience to learn and be a team and to help each other out," said Shamara Marshall, 16 years old.
"I've learned a lot and it's actually been pretty cool. I'm going home telling my mom what I've learned and some of the language I've learned. It's pretty cool," said James Estrada, 18 years old.
The students will showcase their skills next month when they sail a tall ship in the upcoming Parade Of Sails as part of the Pepsi Tall Ships Chicago Festival, , navypier.com/tallshipschicago/home.html. It runs August 24th through the 29th at Navy Pier. Twenty ships from all over the world will participate.