Sailing Alaska And Life Part 3 "GUEST AND CREW" By Captain Jesse Osborn

By Captain Jesse Osborn
  I once chose my friends from a crowd of strangers….  A fellow student who sat nearby, or laughed at the same jokes, or rode the same bus.  A kid whose parents knew mine or lived down the street. 
  We grew up with those kids or others like them.  Yes we were friends but why?  And soon enough some interests common enough overlap, the relationship solidified.  We spend time together.  I shared my life with others in the only way I knew how.  Trial and error. 
 Having grown up some now, at the age of 35, I see patterns in my life.  Namely the kind of people I am attracted to, beyond acquaintance.  I have changed and once again a lesson is clear to me now…. Gifted by that great big beautiful ocean….
 As a sailing instructor in Resurrection Bay, I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with a number of amazing people.  From Veteran Fighter Pilots to Trendy Hair Stylists.  Those enrolled in the classes were for the most part. Go-getters.  Learners. Doers…  All with their own story and aspirations for sailing that brought them to class that week.  And as we toiled and laughed over knots, lights and literally a whole new language and nomenclature, I was in a position to watch them unfold. I caught a glimpse of their true nature…  How they stress. When they laugh and why… What aptitudes and strengths they had…  All of it.  Raw before me.
  Learning to sail involves a deep mixture of excitement, emotion, intelligence and effort.  The mind is bombarded with theories and practices, not unlike flying would bring about.  In fact. Quite literally Sailing IS flying on the water…  All this task loading creates a very transparent environment. No time is lost to postulating here.  What you see is what you get.
 Class after class I saw, groups of students bond with each other.  They leaned on each other, relied on each other.  Teamwork and timing are key.  One cannot exist without the other.  They worked for each other, served each other meals.  They bonded like members of a high school sports team.  It wasn’t always perfect and sometimes they grumbled between themselves. But rarely did I see, one member give up on the rest.  They powered on. Working hard to get along because they realized they needed each other.  Everything was in the open. As no ship is large enough to disperse gossip and things are generally settled at the moment they arise… 
  I am told some of my students, who became friends even went on vacations together.  Renting sailboats in tropical waters. What a fantastic life changing event it is to share a passion with another…
  When this type of thing happens.  Those people you invite into your life, become part of your CREW and you become part of theirs.
  Often times as the CREW and I would sail into the harbor, I would learn that an evening private sail charter had been booked, so of course I would agree to take the GUESTS out for a sail.  I rarely declined of course because yes I love sailing but also, when you teach sailing for a living, you need all the extra income you can get. 
  After departing from the crew for the evening, I would meet my charter guests and begin a safety talk before boarding them for our evening sail.
  As we motored out the Harbor, I would offer 2 scenarios.
1.     We sail hard, I teach them everything I can in the time we have together.
2.     They sit back and enjoy the ride.
The reason I did that is, I find halfway does not work out well…..  If I know I am sailing alone and entertaining the needs of others, I will sail more conservatively.  Less efficiently and with less precision.  Of course I will.  I have no CREW…
 Sailing alone is an art in itself.  I love sailing alone.  The challenges and rewards are equally magnificent.  But sailing hard alone can only be done with a clear deck and no one else to trip over or distract you….  A person can sail better with no crew than with a poor one.  But no one can sail alone, better than a full focused CREW.
 For instance, sailboats are designed to be as comfortable as possible while sailing and working.  Inherently GUESTS will sit in the best seat for viewing and protection.  Those places are workstations for active crew…. Needless to say, the relationships developed here lack the depth of those with crew.  The trust, the commonalities, the bond has no place to take root.
  On the same ocean, in the same wind, on the same boat, on the same day it becomes as clear as a billboard pitch…  It is not what we do in life that satisfies us most… It is whom we do it with…  I can tell you without a doubt I have done some amazingly cool jobs, along side acquaintances and had an OK time.  But also I have done some miserable grunt work, next to, what I call CREW.  And had a blast!  Optimism and Enthusiasm in the face of adversity is the earmark of good solid CREW.
 All this GUEST and CREW discussion is a simplification of personal relationships in our lives.  I’m not talking about family here.  I’m talking about those we chose to invite into our precious moments.  Our thoughts and fears.  Those we would take a bullet for and die smiling because we love them so much.  Those who have surprised and humbled us when they stepped in to take our side.  The ones with the courage to tell us to our face when they were disappointed in us, or needed to clear things up.  These are the few we have allowed such rights.  We have given them the power to correct us, encourage us, help us and represent us. No ifs ands or butts.  They give us and get from us, the benefit of the doubt.  They have earned that and much more…..  These people are not perfect.  Not faultless or without quirks.  But they are our CREW. 
Personally my CREW is small.  But like an iron sheathed expedition ship, she is fortified, provisioned, well handled and maintained.  Not one plank is left to decay. 
There was a time in my life where I was shaken to my core.  My rigging was a shambles.  I was blown onto the rocks by a wicked gale that screamed in the rigging like air raid sirens.  I was holed on the rocks…  Standing chest deep in freezing rushing water.  My most precious things floating about… Ruined… Unrecognizable….
As I scratched and dove and patched my life back together, I’m not sure where the water began and the tears started… Like a zombie carpenter poking sticks in a hole the size of a VW bug….  At the lowest of the low, where lowest is perceived to not exist…  I found my crew.  Some came from the shore and swam to me.  Some were with me and stayed at my side.
They did not ask how I got on the rocks.  Nor did they state the obvious.  They simply placed themselves beside me, facing my dilemma, without fear of consequence upon themselves….
Simultaneously the GUESTS in my life swam for the beach…
I encourage you all in your own voyage to remember this…  The next time a storm blows in your life, stand still….  Look around you….  You may be surprised to find who is not in your CREW and who IS…..
This may be a good time to evaluate yourself as a Crewmember and how you can better serve those who have no more to give…..


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