HMCS Oriole Backgrounder

A force to reckon with


I really quite enjoy when squalls kick up out of nowhere, and then you really have to act on your feet. You obviously see it coming on the horizon, you know you see the dark clouds, they’re nice and low. You know they’re coming and you want to kind of push the boat into it as far as you can get. And then it’s just ‘bam’ on top of you. When things get a little bit hairy and scary, that’s what I’m about.

Hi, my name is Vincent Nicolas MacLean. I am the Assistant Chief’s Bosun Mate aboard HMCS Oriole. Before I came to the Oriole I had no sailing experience at all. Off the hop, I was pretty intimidated by it. I didn’t know… what nothing was really. It’s different, it’s an experience, it’s raw. You know it’s dirty, there’s no showers. There’s… you know you’re stinky a little bit. You’re having a good time, you get sea sick; you know, it’s great. I definitely get a rush from it, I mean, who wouldn’t?

A few days in, we hit the Oregon coast. And you know, everyone was talking about how bad it was going to be, and it was pretty bad. We were heading south, and the winds were coming from the south about 50 or 60 knots. I mean I’m 6 feet tall, the boat has 6 feet of freeboard, and the waves were 6 feet over my head.

For a sailor that’s never sailed on a sailboat, it’s you know, pretty… it’s a force to reckon with. The thing with sailing is it’s really like a battle of the elements. You have to… you’re not going to outsmart Mother Nature. You know, you’re not going to outdo her. She’s going to be there and you’re just going to have to deal with her as she comes. It’s a lot more responsibility than I would be given otherwise. I get to be a Watch Captain, I get to hoist the sails, put them down. And you know, I have guys underneath me, and you know, I can watch out for them and take care of them, and go through the struggle together and have a good time. I came here I didn’t know what a spinnaker was, I didn’t know what a gennaker was, but now I feel very confident in running the boat by myself.

You know, I’d like to have my own boat maybe someday but, as far as what it feels like it’s… I don’t know, I’d do this for years upon end.


HMCS Oriole History:

HMCS Oriole is the oldest ship in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). It was built in 1921 as the flag ship for the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto, ON and commissioned into the RCN in 1952. It weighs approximately 92 tonnes, has a beam of 19.5 feet, and sleeping accommodations for 22. Ketch-rigged, Oriole is a near relative to a schooner, but differs in that its mizzen mast is smaller than its mainmast and is steeped further aft.

When fully rigged, HMCS Oriole set 13,133 square feet of Dacron sail. These tremendous sails are all manhandled; there is not a winch on the ship. Oriole’s hull is steel, however its decks, cabin house, skylights and hatches are all made of teak. Oriole is a sturdy ocean cruiser and valuable for team work and seamanship training. Its participation in racing is primarily to give inexperienced crews further opportunities for training.

Commanding Officer:

Born to a military family in Summerside, PEI, LCdr Foran joined the Royal Canadian Navy in Ottawa at HMCS Carleton in 2003. Prior to joining as  Naval Warfare Officer, he spent several years in civilian tallship sail training programs in the Great Lakes. After completing training in 2006, LCdr Foran served as Deck Officer in HMC Ships Moncton and Shawinigan. On achieving his Fleet Navigating Officer qualification, he served as Navigator in HMC Ships Glace Bay and Moncton. In 2011, LCdr Foran served as a Fleet Navigating Instructor at the Naval Officer Training center where he also taught the inaugural Arctic Operations Course. He served as Operations Officer in HMCS Summerside, and Executive Officer in HMCS Moncton deploying to the Arctic, Caribbean, Mediterranean and West African theatres of Operation. His land based tours include the United Nations Mission in Sudan (Op SAFARI), and Combined Task Force 150 in Bahrain, for which he received a Command Commendation. Prior to assuming command of HMCS Oriole, LCdr Foran worked as Coastal Warfare Officer in Maritime Operations Group Five. He currently resides in Dartmouth with his wife Lesley, where they enjoy sailing and walking his dog Brisbane. 

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