I love working on the Zodiac in the early part of the season. It is all about the schools and youth programs during the shoulder-season months of May and June.
I've spent the last few weeks teaching high school kids cool stuff like how to communicate with signal flags (...and, did you know that there are some pretty nasty things one can transmit with the use of international signal flags)?! ...We have thrown the remote submersible vessel over the side and caught glimpses of the sea-bed at night and we've tied Turks-head knots on everything that can move--as well as some things that don't.
I've also overseen some awesome ship-side regattas with hand made wooden creations that teams of kids have designed onboard. They have learned a lot about sail, hull design, stability and weather by making their own boats and then racing them against each other.
The best part of all when it comes to sailing in the islands with scores of teenagers is watching the confidence and team spirit that develops each day that we are out. Kids come onboard the ship with their various distractions and issues--but leave as enthusiastic sailors, more committed to working together and following directions than they ever were prior to sailing on a 200-ton tall ship!
Don't get me wrong- the noise levels and mess that comes with teen cohabitation can wear ya' down, (and the overwhelming odor of "Axe Body Spray" that wafts in from the main salon every morning)... but overall, the privilege of introducing these kids to a life changing experience on the water is a pretty cool honor. I love it when schools return and we recognize kids that have been on before; grown up a little bit more and ready to teach their younger classmates all about the sails and the commands. What a treat.
We only have another week of the kids trips and then it is on to Lighthouse cruises, Gulf islands and Winery Tour trips... (also not a bad way at all to spend one's summer). The high season means sun and warm breezes, quiet on deck during a sunset and eating crab over the cap-rails. Nevertheless, I'll still miss the raw energy and exuberance that comes with having these kids on board.
So, here's to all the young sailors I've been working with lately! Hip Hip Huzzah!