Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kelsey with shipmates Elliot and Zach

A Crewmember's Perspective

Following her 4 1/2 month season aboard Adventuress


How to capture a season? I'd intended to write some blogs about life aboard the Adventuress as a Season 1 crewmember for weeks.  Somehow, in the craziness of the season, there was always something else to draw me away from a computer.  Usually I was in program, but even in the free time, it was the jam session that had just broke out in the deckhouse, the call to get ice cream after work, or the sometimes-unavoidable lure of my bunk.  Now it’s all over and I find myself trying to somehow summarize and capture the incredible last four and a half months of my life.  I already miss it.

I remember first coming onboard Adventuress in late March.  It was a chilly spring i
n Port Townsend and the boat was still torn apart as winter maintenance was wrapping up.  I passed my duffel bag and instrument up to a scruffy, salty sailor, soon to be known to me as Jesse Wiegel, before climbing up onto my new home.  I was standing among some other new crew members, awkwardly milling on the deck.  Jesse, who’d been onboard since January, was grinning from ear to ear and told us, “I’ve been waiting for you guys for months!  I’m so excited for how good of friends we’ll be in a couple weeks.”

He was so right.  The crew quickly bonded – through long conversations, structured or spontaneous; over munging the soleboards or other of the many necessary “ship’s stewardship” chores; and through the daily teamwork of sailing an environmental tall ship.  We were a family, with inside jokes and some squabbles and lots and lots of music and laughter. I’d call us occasionally dysfunctional, but how can you be with a 99-year old wooden schooner to operate and an educational program to deliver?

It was such a shock when the first month-long intern left and a new crew member joined us.  I was unprepared for any of my friends to leave.  The crew morphed and shifted all season, with volunteers, interns and the steady stream of participants from all over the country.  Soon I realized that though the people changed, the incredible community of this boat stayed constant.  And the crew benefited, in ways I haven’t experienced on other ships, from the larger Adventuress family.  We would often sail into port to a welcoming committee, where friends and volunteers gladly fielded our phone calls to help with food buys, compost runs, or even housing a homeless sailor on time-off.

I stuck around for Season 2 crew training.  Coming down from a full season was harder than I expected.  Those of us left from Season 1 realized our exhaustion as we watched the awesome new energy and enthusiasm coursing through the boat with the new crew.  We passed on some programs, shanties, policies, jokes, and  traditions.  The new crew quickly made the ship their own.  And at the end of five days, it felt good to know I was passing the boat on to such a wonderful, new family. A certain thread continued, and seems to live in the decks, beams and soles themselves – a level of intention, hard work, openness, good will, and humor, even the constant music; that will keep me coming back to Adventuress again and again.

(Kelsey treats Public Sail participants with her fiddle-playing.)

Kelsey Lane was Relief Program Coordinator for Season 1, 2012.  She grew up in South Dakota, but has been living on or near oceans around the world for the last eight years.

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