Friday, January 13, 2017

Winter Mate Jesse Wiegel on Sailing in Service to Something Bigger

Jesse under Adventuress' cover
during a previous Winter season.
Jesse Wiegel’s first exposure to Adventuress involved his job at a coffee shop near Port Townsend’s marina. Every so often, a distinctive group of customers would pass through: happy young sailors who delighted in each other’s company. That was how Jesse first became acquainted with the Adventuress crew and, through this connection, how he first began sailing. Starting as an Intern in 2011, Jesse has served as Relief Galley Coordinator, Educator/Deckhand, and Relief Engineer. Last year, he came aboard as Chief Mate for the first time. When the sailing season came to a close at the end of October, he stepped off for a few days and then came straight back to the boat to spend the winter working and living aboard Adventuress as the Winter Mate.

Although Jesse grew up in Sequim, sandwiched between the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, he didn’t start off with an immediate connection to the natural world. The North Cascades Institute, where he worked for a time, introduced him to the majesty of the land; Adventuress introduced him to the beauty of the Salish Sea. Says Jesse, Adventuress opened me up to the idea that I could connect to this place by being on the water. The first time I came aboard, it felt really natural. It felt like something I’d been looking towards for a long time. I didn’t want to leave.”

Jesse directing participants on last
year's Fantastic Voyage Level 2.
And he didn’t. Over the next five years, as he sailed in many different roles, Jesse became deeply familiar with the ship and organization. He speaks with ease about the different programs that take place aboard Adventuress, from Sound Studies and Sound Explorations (programs for schools and youth groups) to Public Sails to summer overnight trips. His favorite is Fantastic Voyage, because it brings together a brand new group of teenagers each year. Says Jesse, “On Fantastic Voyage, all these strangers come aboard and in the course of six days they coalesce into a powerful group. Every time I see it happen, it works.”

A lover of music, Jesse takes a break on deck.
Jesse also has experience on other boats, including Lettie G. Howard, Pride of Baltimore II, Clearwater, and Picton Castle. His time sailing on other ships gives him a unique perspective on what sets Adventuress apart: “On many other boats, people enjoy crushing it on a big ‘ol ship. And that’s a lot of fun. But on Adventuress, our culture comes from the fact that we sail in service to something bigger. We’re exposing participants to the Salish Sea. That’s the most powerful thing we do. The result is that we produce people who care for this place.”

As for what he’s planning when he leaves Adventuress at the end of the Winter Season, Jesse isn’t sure of the details, but he knows the path he hopes to follow. Says Jesse: “What’s next? The short answer is: getting people outside. I want to continue to work with outdoor programs that expose people to their environment.”

Before he sets off on a new endeavor, though, he has several months left on Adventuress. As Winter Mate through the beginning of March, he’ll continue managing maintenance projects while overseeing Winter Crew and Winter Work Weekends (WWW). The upcoming WWW is this weekend—January 14-16—and Jesse encourages you to attend: “It’s a whole lot of good people taking care of the ship we love. We have this great sense of accomplishment from so many hands working together. The Winter Crew could not do this without your help.” He pauses for a moment, then continues. “And I just want to add that the food is delicious.”