Foundation for Underway Experiential Learning

Endorsed By:

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who FUEL serves

Gap-year students, college students, lifelong learners.

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 the mission

 Aboard our sailing ship learners are given the tools to lead meaningful lives that make a positive impact on our world.


the vision

A better world though better people.

100% of your gift will go toward building the ship for the fuel program

Have a question? Email FUEL's president


“By combining the excitement of the sea and the tools for education, the FUEL Program will catapult those who experience it into personal growth.”

— John Keene
director, FUEL board; father on Martha's Vineyard

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“I believe in Ian and Casey, the co-founders of the FUEL Program. They experienced this type of program, it changed their lives.”

— Stever Aubrey
vice chairman, FUEL board of directors

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“Investing in the FUEL Program is investing in our future and the future of any person who will be lucky enough to take part in the program.”

— Nisa Webster
 mate 2000 – 03, The Black Dog Tall Ships; mother on Martha's Vineyard

Why is the FUEL Program important?

When it comes to education, most people find that high school and college are not enough to prepare them for their lives ahead. The FUEL Program helps young people complete their education by offering a transformative journey in which they discover their personal potential.

We know how hard it is to find inspiration from sitting through long, boring lectures. That is why we take learners outside of the traditional classroom and give them an unforgettable and life-changing adventure. After navigating across oceans on a world-voyaging sailing ship your education starts working for you. You gain the abilities to problem solve and think for yourself and the confidence and enthusiasm to live a meaningful life.

The FUEL Program was created by Ian Ridgeway and Casey Blum with 30 years collective experience educating young people aboard sailing ships. Before completing her dual master's degree in outdoor education and social work at the University of New Hampshire Casey was the first female captain of the sailing ship Alabama. Ian learned to sail under Captain Bob Douglas on Shenandoah and Alabama and went on to captain these sailing ships for over 8 years training 2 captains, 7 first mates, and countless crew. Our advisory board is made up of world renowned experts in the varied fields that contribute to this unique program including experiential learning, outdoor education, study abroad, deep sea voyaging, conventional sailing, ship design, and fundraising. Our team has come together for this project because we know the positive and profound transformation that happens to people during a voyage on a big sailing ship, and we want to share that with you. 

Onboard our sailing ship learners will engage in the same tasks that the professional crew and officers do and gain the same confidence. They will see more of the world in 3.5 months than most people see in their entire lives. They will earn college credits as well as maritime certifications and licensing. They will build a foundation of practical skills that will help them the rest of their lives.

People learn best when they are outside of their comfort zones and being challenged. If you are only tested in school on paper then your potential will be limited to classrooms and test scores. However, once you understand your personal potential your education starts working for you. People who know their potential live meaningful lives that make a positive impact on our world. Invest in the FUEL Program's development and help launch the next generation of leaders, teachers, entrepreneurs, and officers. Why? Because these are the people that will shape our future. 


Your gift to the fuel program is 100% tax deductible

Have a question? Email FUEL's president

Ports of call



Nice, St. Tropez, Cannes, Corsica, Villefranche


Civitavecchia, Porto Venere, Rome, Elba, Sardinia


Minorca, Mallorca, Cartagena, Grenada, Gibraltar


Essaouira, Casablanca, Safi, Agadir


Canary Islands (Fuertaventura, Las Palmas), Cape Verde Islands


St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Martinique, Dominica, Nevis and Antigua, St. Maarten


The Route


Students join the ship in early September in Nice, France. Using the last warm weeks of the northern summer, we wind through French, Italian, and Spanish Mediterranean coastal towns. With frequent stops in ports along the way students are able to acclimate with the ship. After passing through Gibraltar, we sail down the Morocco coast then to the Canary Islands and the Cape Verdes. The biggest leg of the voyage is the 2,200 nautical mile crossing of the Atlantic from the Cape Verdes to the West Indies.

The students will learn, while experiencing first-hand, relevant subject matter. For example, what creates the trade winds which are driving our sailing ship? And, how have they impacted human history? The final weeks of the voyage will be spent exploring the delightful tropical islands of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean before the students fly home from St. Maarten.


Have a question? Email FUEL's president

Your gift will go directly toward building the ship for the FUEL Program

Have a question? Email FUEL's president