Thursday, July 14, 2011

Getting Personal

By Zoƫ Plakias

Our family within a family
Oh, Adventuress. [Insert sigh here]. For those of you, like me, who don’t live nearby, it’s easy to forget why we love Adventuress so much. Sure, we can give money when asked, or respond to Facebook posts, and these are important aspects of our community. But we forget what it’s like to be onboard – to see someone’s realization of self worth when they first learn to tie a bowline or that look of fear that precedes the climb aloft followed by pure joy on the return to deck. We forget that feeling of shared satisfaction coupled with exhaustion at the end of a long day of sailing.

I first sailed aboard Adventuress more than 5 years ago now. But it had been a few years since I’d participated in a program. This past week, I had the joy to sail as both a volunteer crewmember and participant with my partner, a crewmember, and his 13-year old niece. This allowed me the best of all possible worlds—to participate in a program in a way I never had before. I was both a member of a watch as a participant, and a crewmember without a watch, spending time in the galley and on deck, able to observe from a few steps back.

And I was blown away by what I saw. I had forgotten the aspects of sharing and camaraderie that make Sound Experience so special. We share our knowledge and our songs and our poetry and our history and our dreams with each other. We get personal. This is the point where Catherine, our Executive Director, get’s a little worried about what I’m going to say. It’s a bit of a joke within the Sound Experience community that many past crewmembers and volunteers end up in romantic relationships later on. My partner and I are two such crewmembers. And although this is meant as a joke, it comes as no surprise. I have learned more about my fellow shipmates on one six-day trip than I have learned about friends I have known on land for years. There are no walls on a ship. There is no room for baggage. This is true of Adventuress more than any other ship I have sailed on. Participants and crew literally sleep in a cabin together with no divisions, bulkheads or curtains. There really is no space for extra clothes, rolling suitcases, and all that stuff we like to carry with us these days. And this reminds us—there is no need to worry if someone sees us without our make-up on or our hair brushed. Who cares if we wear the same shirt as yesterday? Everyone else is doing the same.

In just six days, all of us—crew and participants alike—are able to let go of these trivialities, get to know each other and our selves better and to push ourselves to do things we have not done before. Captain Joshua says he has one goal for a trip. “I consider a trip to be successful,” he says, “if we all return just a little bit better off than when we started.” What I love about this goal is how all encompassing it is. It means a participant overcoming a fear of heights to climb aloft. It means a crewmember calling the setting of a sail for the first time. It means learning something that you never knew about a loved one or a friend. It means being a little bit stronger and having more of a tan. Each of us gains something different from sailing aboard Adventuress. For me, it was a reminder to have faith in my fellow shipmates and in myself—that no matter how much planning time we put in, faith is always a necessary component.

So with that, I want to encourage you as well to do what I had forgotten to do for a long time—go sailing. Make the effort. Buy the plane ticket. Remember why you love Sound Experience. Although I have continued to support Sound Experience over the years, I had forgotten why I was doing it. I had forgotten about the serenity of Parks Bay at sunrise. I had forgotten how hard I could laugh. I had forgotten the power that just six days can have on a group of people that has never met before. I had forgotten how to get personal with myself and other people in a supportive and meaningful way.

And I had forgotten that it’s our responsibility, as members of the Sound Experience community, not to forget. So don’t.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Road Scholar Intergenerational Day 5 of 6 Day Voyage – Headed down Puget Sound toward Seattle from Everett

Q & A with the Grandchildren – 6 boys ages 10-13

Describe what you’ve liked the most on this trip so far:

"Climbing aloft.  You’re up there above everything – you can see everything afar – and it’s windy up there!  It’s an awesome experience."

"I’ve never been really, really high up before, except on roller coasters."

"I liked when we went on a hike – it’s just an island to itself.  And you needed a boat to get out there.  I’ve only been to islands you can drive to before."

"I think it’s really fun setting the sails – you’ve got everyone working together doing something that affects everyone else.  It’s kind of rewarding putting up something that weighs several thousand pounds!"

Each night we have evening program.  What has been your favorite part?

"I really like the whole program – the different “reports” – and everyone comes together to play games and sing.  There were old songs that I didn’t know but my grandmother did – and it helped us win!"

"I loved the murder mystery game! That was so funny in the end."

"It’s fun to see my grandmother here on the boat; she’s really different here than at home."

This final question was posed by one of the boys to the other boys…How do you think this experience has changed you?

"It’s taught me a lot about food waste and how you can eat healthy foods."

"I’ve learned to love different kinds of tea."

"You have to work hard to do something and in the end, it’s really rewarding."

"If no one did the dishes, you’d just have dirty dishes."

"Every little thing you do affects the environment – every little thing contributes to a big thing, which affects all other things."

"It’s definitely given me more experience in sailing.  I learned about new and different boats, the San Juan Islands, and history."