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Canary Islands to host Sea Trek 2001 celebration

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Sea Trek 2001, the re-enactment of the 19th century Atlantic crossing of Latter-day Saint immigrants planned for Aug. 4-Oct. 6, is being eagerly welcomed by Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

The Canary Islands, which played a key role in providing water and supplies to the 19th century sailing ships, will host a major celebration for the flotilla of ships when they arrive on their transatlantic voyage Sept. 6-8.

Sea Trek 2001 already has major celebrations planned in European ports of call that will include maritime migration displays; family history centers; educational presentations; musical groups; a concert of "Saints on the Seas," an oratorio-like musical that has been recorded by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; tall-ship tours and even fireworks.

Now, what was going to be a four-hour stop in the Canary Islands to replenish food supplies will be a two-day celebration.

The celebration will help the people of the islands become more familiar with the Church, said President Carl Morrison of the Spain Las Palmas Mission.

"We are grateful that the Sea Trek 2001 ships will be spending two days here," he said. "It will help the people here become more familiar with European immigration to the United States in general and a little bit about who we are. It will also help dispel myths that exist about our faith."

The Canaries have a long history of ships stopping for water and supplies. Christopher Columbus stayed in the Canaries while his ships' sails were re-rigged from triangular to square sails. Coincidentally, the date of the ships' arrival on Sept. 6 is the 509th anniversary of the explorer leaving Canary Islands en route to discover the New World.

Following Columbus, most of the sailing ships bound for the New World came by way of Canary Islands on their way to catch the trade winds that would carry them across the Atlantic.

A journal of Thomas Featherstone, sailing with LDS immigrants on the Germinates in 1854 from Liverpool, England, recounts a sea storm, and his appreciation at seeing the Canary Islands:

Thursday the 20 during this night and last night we had a very rough time for the wind blew and the waters roll mountings [mountains] high and the waves come over the deck with such vengeance that it seemed as if they would knock the bulwarks down. About 4 o’clock this morning some of the Saints thought they was going to the bottom for the ship rocked from side to side. It seemed as if it would capsize. I got up and went on deck to help the sailors pull the ropes. Some of the Saints began to forget the promises of our God and his servants. It was a trial of faith to see the ship all in confusion. Boxes and kettles and pans dashing from one side to the other and children crying and sailors cursing. I thought it was the highest hell that ever I was in or ever wished to be in. Besides all this we were annoyed with the dirty ways and filth of some of the . . . passengers but I bore it with patience knowing that deliverance was sure. . . .

Friday the 21 today the weather is fine and the wind is stiller but sea and waves is still rolling mountains height and our gallant ship is going on and dancing over the rolling waves. At 6 p.m. the peak of Tinner Reef [Tenerife] is in sight 100 and 60 miles ahead of us.

Saturday the 22 this morning the sun rose upon the waters beautiful and shines brilliantly from the ocean. This morning the peak of Tinner Reef is seen more clearly. Also the isle is a beautiful sight. The peak is elevated above the clouds. It is 12,236 feet, 2- miles high the level of the sea with top above ship [—] below the clouds is the isle of Tenerife. It is inhabited by Spaniards. There is about 17,000 thousand inhabitants. I looked through a telescope and saw one of the villages it was a splendid sight. The houses are built after the same size and form as they are in England. It is a beautiful sight and when I saw the peak it put me in mind of the mountings [mountains] of Ephraim that is exalted above the everlasting hills. The place which I desired so long to see. There is in sight one steamer and one ship and islands on both sides 13 in number. They are called the Canary Islands, 2000 miles from Liverpool. . . .

Sea Trek 2001 will include eight tall sailing ships traveling to nine port cities in Europe and the British Isles, representing the gathering of saints. Then four of the largest ships will cross the Atlantic to New York City, where the culminating celebration will be held.

At present, some of the European sailing legs of the re-enactment are sold out, but the historic crossing from Portsmouth to New York via the Canary Islands is still available. To help fill these remaining places, a $2,000 scholarship grant is being offered to young adults under 30 to make the Aug. 27-Oct. 4 Atlantic crossing. For more information about the grants or concerts, call (801) 932-7990, or visit the web site: seatrek2001.com