The sail training sloop Spirit of Bermuda has launched an ambitious bid to raise $3 million to keep the charity afloat.

The ship – which offers the discipline of five day seagoing trips under sail to middle school pupils aged around 13 – has already raised around $600,000 – but hopes to raise the rest by next January at the latest.

Bermuda Sloop Foundation CEO Denise Riviere said: “It’s an intense programme – but it’s part of character-building and learning what they wouldn’t learn in a classroom.

“Resilience is being sick, throwing up and coming back out on deck to help your team.”

During the trips, youngsters work with the sails, stand watches around the clock and take the helm of the ship, under the supervision of trained navigators.

Ms Riviere said: “It’s very important because of the character-building content and the power of sail training. It forces them to understand there is something outside the norm.”

And she added: Children who aren’t purely academic perhaps need to be encouraged – they might be good with their hands and they can be encouraged to pick careers which suit their talents.

“And, with all that’s going on with gang activity and negative things they can get into, it also helps them to become more responsible.”

The Spirit of Bermuda costs around $1.8 million a year to run and support from the community is vital to keeping the ship at sea.

Ms Riviere said the charity always looked for ways to trim expenses and stay efficient, but added that running a tall ship was not cheap.

She explained the latest appeal was to help pay off the mortgage on the ship and debts associated with running its programmes.

And she told potential sponsors: “We need you to help us invest in saving our youth and providing them with experiences they normally wouldn’t have.”

The non-profit charity has provided courses for more than 3500 youngsters since 2006 under the slogan “changing lives one voyage at a time.”

It also operates summer cruises abroad for youngsters aged over 14 and has visited the US, Canada, The Azores, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The Spirit of Bermuda is also available for group and charter trips, company team building events as well as tours for visitors and locals.

For more information on any of the charity’s services, visit www.bermudasloop.org.