Where do you come from, and were you involved with boats there?
I am a Bay Area native who returned in 2021 after 9 years in Los Angeles. Growing up here, my first tall ship was Balclutha, on which I was the Rigger’s Mate during my Age of Sail overnight in 7th grade, but it wasn’t until some years later that tall ships became more than a really cool field trip. While in Los Angeles, I was introduced to the twin brigantines, Irving and Exy Johnson, and the three-masted schooner, American Pride, of the Los Angeles Maritime Institute through a sailing course I took at USC. I caught the sailing bug and really started living and breathing tall ships in 2017 after my first year of law school. From then on, I was spending most of the time I wasn’t on the boats figuring out when I could next return to them – if there was a record for the amount of time spent studying for the bar exam while voyaging on a tall ship, I would probably hold it.
How did you hear about Call of the Sea, educational tall ship Matthew Turner and schooner Seaward?
When I moved back to the Bay Area, now infused with a love of tall ship sailing from LAMI, I immediately sought out my local tallships and had prior knowledge of Call of the Sea from shipmates who had previously crewed on Seaward. By happy coincidence, one of my old shipmates from LAMI, Sam Johnson, had recently started on Matthew Turner as a deckhand and was gracious enough to invite me aboard for a day sail upon minimal pestering. The crew quickly realized I was not just a friend of Sam’s, but also a sailor, and Captain Adrian had me throwing a dock line by the time we had returned to our dock!
How long have you been volunteering here at COTS?
Since that fateful day in August 2021! I still remember how as I explained my mission to find my local tallship to volunteer on, Raffi’s eyes lit up and excitedly asked if “[Turner] could be that tall ship?” and we knew a match had been made. Having a day job as an attorney, I’m mostly around on weekends, racing on smaller boats around the Bay to fulfill my need to be on the water and distract me from missing my shipmates when I can’t be on Turner or Seaward.
What is your favorite task to do here at COTS?
I am a proud rig monkey. Beyond taking in the view (especially when there are Blue Angels overhead for Fleet Week!) and furling and unfurling sails while aloft, I love inspiring confidence and wonder in students during our Aloft programs. Each participant comes to us with a different comfort/experience/interest level, and I enjoy the challenge of handling each person with patience and compassion to allow them each to get the most out of their experience – whether that takes them up just a few ratboards, up to the platform, or out onto a yard!
I have also embraced the role of a volunteer in greeting, training, learning from, and befriending the revolving door of wonderful humans that grow into deckhands, mates, and captains.
Is there anything specific you have learned while volunteering here?
Working aloft with the usual suspects has really increased my confidence in rigging work; beefing the jibs alongside my fellow deckhands has really taught me how to sweat up a line, and my friendship with fellow volunteer Chad Brubaker has advanced my skills in celestial navigation and repertoire of boat jokes. I have also tried to be self-aware about any “Second Boat Syndrome” I might have – recognizing that although there may be other ways I have previously been taught to do tasks on a boat, it is important to keep an open mind about learning new techniques and respecting the traditions of the deck below (or above) me.