Written by Meredith Evridge
Another exciting Sail Caribbean season has officially kicked off with our staff training sessions! Coming from all across the world – the United States, Ireland, the UK, Canada, and even South Africa – our team is a bright and accomplished bunch. Proudly holding certifications in sailing, outdoor adventure, experiential education, teen leadership and mentorship, marine biology, turtle tag training, windsurfing, professional and technical diving holding certifications all the way up to Divemaster, this is not a group of slackers. Ocean appreciation to the extreme!
Upon inquiring about just how talented this crew is, our staff began to reveal countless other skills and certifications that they have mastered beyond their skills necessary to work for Sail Caribbean. We have a fisheries biologist, a pilot, a black belt in Karate, a Zumba instructor, a violinist, a racing drone builder, climbers, mountain bikers, a competitive swimmer, a specialist on Chinese foreign policy, a culinary artist, a horse trainer, a marketing major, architects and even a doctor on fleet. What an amazing group of individuals!
Our staff training is modeled after the programs we run for our students. Here at Sail Caribbean, the emphasis is on leadership, sailing, personal growth, and empowerment…and we don’t want to miss a minute of it.
As the start dates of our first programs get closer, the excitement level rises. The staff begin to prepare for what is always an educational and fun ten day training program. The med kits are double and triple checked with health and safety playing a crucial role in Sail Caribbean staff training.
During these ten days, unannounced medical scenarios are practiced every few days with new staff unaware if these scenarios are a real emergency or not. Staff members promptly jump into action, putting their Wilderness First Aid/Wilderness First Responder training to to the test regardless of the situation. Throughout these episodes, each staff member becomes well versed in any and all emergency situations that could potentially arise during actual programs while learning to respond in a calm and collected manner.
A typical day of staff training entails waking up and cooking breakfast, then heading off to the open ocean for sailing practice where each person is assigned a specific position. Running through each and every step of the process, the initial somewhat confusing directions from veteran staff start to become second nature. Our hands are able to take over the motions without a second thought. There is ample opportunity for new staff to practice teaching lessons. Often the same lessons on docking, anchoring, points of sail, and other essentials are taught until all of our staff can easily teach a lesson in their sleep! Staff training also focuses on leadership, program rules, and team building. Our leadership/team building activities for our students are based off of True Course guidelines, which is a curriculum providing direction, guidance and purpose to students. Running through several “getting to know you” games, reviewing group dynamics, and swimming through Sail Caribbean’s standard operating procedures, we know we will emerge from this staff training with even more prowess than we could imagine. Seasoned staff continue to exceed all expectations while new staff become more and more pleased to be a part of this influential team.
Although we work hard, we always find time to enjoy the outdoors together. Once we reach our daily destination and share a scrumptious lunch, we do activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, and island exploration. As dinnertime rolls around, those on “dinner duty” get started while everyone else hungrily watches them cook. Hard work and play means gigantic appetites! After the meal is enjoyed and dishes are done, we do a comprehensive boat clean, scrubbing every surface until it shines. We make this task fun by putting on some tunes and reveling in working beside coworkers that have become friends. A boat meeting is also held every night where we compare notes and go over the schedule for the next day. This is great practice for the daily boat meetings we will have with our students when they arrive. Since each day is so jam-packed full of instruction, reminders, and activity, it is always nice to linger after the day has wound down to just chat and share stories into the night as the waves rock us to sleep.
The greatest challenge during the program was staying entertained during the quarantine period. Not being able to leave your boat and not having a phone, which was a crutch against boredom, it was difficult at first to stay entertained.