Living and working on the Schooner Adventuress, currently docked in Seattle, is a very exciting and engaging internship experience. The nonprofit organization Sound Experience uses the ship as a vessel to bring environmental education and sail training to residents of the Puget Sound area. I’ve been working both day sails open to the public and overnight programs, which have been with groups of students in middle and high school. Each program runs a little differently, combining the opportunity to raise and set sails and experience life aboard Adventuress with various lessons about things like ocean acidification and plankton.
I am interning as an educator and a deckhand, so my roles on board are dual. As a deckhand, I work with the rest of the operating crew to sail Adventuress around the Salish Sea and to keep up proper maintenance. The ship is an old gal built in 1913 and requires daily care (lovingly referred to as ‘boat love’). All of the sole (floor) boards must be swept and mopped, the deck needs to be scrubbed and hosed down, and various places need varnishing and greasing and checking and bleaching. There are a lot of little tasks that add up to a lot of work, but it’s super fun hanging out with my crewmates and working through it all together. Our adoration of and respect for the ship definitely makes all the chores worthwhile!
Life aboard Adventuress can be dizzyingly busy but certainly productive. During a typical overnight, wakeups are at 0700 and all of the bunks need to be packed up and teeth brushed by 0730, when breakfast is served by our galley coordinator. After breakfast comes boat chores before sails can be prepped for the day. We guide the participants through all of the procedures with the hope that they can end up assisting us as they become familiar with handling the lines (ropes). With the right weather and winds, we can sail throughout the day while leading lessons and running periodic emergency drills. Each crew member is responsible for an hour of anchor watch during the night, during which bilges are checked and bearings are taken to ensure that the ship is not drifting. Then we wake up and repeat the cycle! It’s all a lot of responsibility, and all of the teaching that I’ve been doing is definitely helping me to develop my leadership style. Pursuant to NCI’s mission, I feel myself becoming a more competent and confident leader as I spend time working on the ship. I definitely am learning a lot about leadership from watching how my fellow crew members fill their roles- it’s really wonderful to be surrounded by such wonderful mentors, most of them female-identifying. It’s really cool to see so many women running the ship and making it all work. I also see participants gaining confidence as they learn more and more about the ship and lead each other in sail and educational activities, which is such a wonderful experience.
I first heard about Adventuress from a coworker at the outdoor school that I worked at during my gap year. When I initially applied I did not feel that I was qualified for the job, as I’d had no sailing experience, but I gave it a shot anyways and was as genuine and open as I could be in my application and interviews and honest about what experiences I did and did not have. If you’re on the search for internships, I definitely suggest applying to things that you think are a reach- you never know how it’ll work out! Employers may be very interested in qualities that you already have! I also think it’s important to branch out and try something unique or different. I never imagined that I would end up on a tall ship! Letting yourself be open to new experiences can be very rewarding and lead to awesome opportunities.
Throughout the summer, I want to keep working on both my educator and deckhand skills. I want to have a better knowledge of sail theory and navigation so that I can better understand why I pull on the lines that I’m asked to pull on. I also want to develop my teaching skills further and become more confident in sharing the knowledge that I have with participants. I am really looking forward to the next few weeks of Adventuress adventuring- wish me fair winds!