n the late 1980s the Sea Organization, a fraternal order within the Church of Scientology, began to search for a particular fifty-foot sailing vessel built in Holland. The double ended and high-sided ketch was once named the Enchanter. Her stout beam and tall wheelhouse made her distinctive, but also difficult to steer and handle at sea. Ocean swells rolled her about, and when her topsides caught the wind she was known to stray from course all too easily.
Why then did the Sea Organization want to find this outdated and occasionally unwieldy yacht? In part, it was because she was so demanding a vessel to sail. For not only had the Enchanter, 20 years earlier, carried L. Ron Hubbard on a number of important research expeditions under the flag and auspices of the Explorers Club, but she had served as the first vessel of the Sea Organization. And the challenge of sailing her under Rons tutelage had converted landlubbers into seasoned sailors capable of facing Old Man Sea in the best and worst of circumstances.
In 1967, Enchanter was a gleaming white and shipshape yacht, having just completed a full refit to Rons specifications in the Canary Island port of Las Palmas. The 17 SCIENTOLOGISTSTM who joined Ron there were the first members of the newly found Sea Organization. (The Sea Organization would later be entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the expansion of DIANETICS® and SCIENTOLOGY® around the world.)
Gathered together to assist Ron in his research expedition, these men and women were predominantly landlubbers. But they were destined to serve on larger vessels planned for the expansion of the Sea Organization, and their thorough training as seamen was essential. Indeed, many of these sailors would go on to become officers aboard the 145-foot North Sea trawler, Avon River (later rechristened Athena) and the 328-foot Royal Scotman (rechristened Apollo), where they would train their own crews, using knowledge they were to learn from Ron aboard the Enchanter. [For more insight into Rons training the first Sea Org crews, read RON Master Mariner Issue 1: Sea Captain.]
So, although Enchanter was unforgiving and demanded skillful application, she was for these same reasons the ideal training vessel requiring a complete preparation in ocean-going discipline and a thorough understanding of the teamwork involved to sail her.
Furthermore, training aboard a small vessel which responds instantly to any changes in wind or current demands a high standard of competence which helps build self-discipline and character. Gaining competence at sea instills a sense of courage and determinism that lends itself well to all aspects of life. And sailing the Enchanter on the high seas was no Sunday-afternoon outing. She provided an ideal environment to gain the competence.
As Ron himself pointed out to the newly assembled crew, "Theres been an awful lot of stupid guys who went to sea and lived to tell the tale. And then an awful lot of stupid guys who went to sea and didnt live to tell the tale."