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How sailing became a passion and a career

21 Dec 2023

Written by Heather Wood (The Royal Gazette)

About two years ago, Jahshon Smith was trying to figure out his life when Lisa Latham, a counsellor at Bermuda College, came forward with a suggestion.

Her idea, the Endeavour Maritime Career Springboard Programme, took him by surprise as it was aimed at Bermudians aged 16 and older, who were looking to build a maritime career.

Jahshon didn’t know anything about boats — but he was interested.

“Those first two or three weeks were pretty rough. I’d never sailed before, so I felt a little bit behind, but I believe my determination and my willingness to succeed kind of helped me.

“It was very intensive. I learnt all about the maritime industry – sailing, powerboating, the multiple maritime industries on the island…I didn’t know what I wanted to get out of the programme, but the more that I did it, the more I kind of fell in love with sailing.”

The 23-year-old is now Endeavour’s Programme Co-ordinator, responsible for teaching young sailors in the classroom and on the water.

On completing the seven-week Springboard course in February 2021, he made a request to stay on as an intern sailing instructor, but, because of the social restrictions brought on by the pandemic, the programme was put on hold.

“They had scheduled a programme for the following year,” Jahshon said. “And so, in September 2021 [I started working] part-time at Endeavour as an assistant instructor just to get some hands-on experience, to see what my job would actually look like if I wanted to commit to it.”

He discovered he enjoyed teaching middle school students all the information he had absorbed from his Endeavour coaches and was looking forward to doing the same in 2022 as an instructor with the Springboard Programme.

“But then I had an accident last year that prevented me from being available.

“I was on my way to work in Dockyard with Endeavour and I collided with a car. I flipped over her hood and landed on my feet but I think the landing messed me up. I partially tore the meniscus in my knee and dislocated my shoulder.”

For six months he was out of work, kept busy by the physiotherapy he needed for his rehabilitation.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Jahshon said of his injuries.

“[Endeavour] kept the place for me. They were very, very understanding and willing to work with what had happened.

“They checked up on me every week or so just to see how I was doing, what my recovery time was looking like and what I was doing to recover and also just trying to help out where they could, when I didn’t have the resources I needed to recover.”

In March, he returned to Endeavour and was sent to England for further training.

“I was sent away to Chichester, West Sussex to do a Royal Yachting Association Senior Instructor Course. And with that qualification came a promotion to Programme Co-ordinator.

“Basically I’m just taking on more responsibility – [assist the manager with] running the fort, planning sessions myself, overseeing career professional development for newer employees. Making sure that they get the necessary skills to do their job to a certain standard.”

Jahshon is now certain he made the right choice in signing up for the Springboard Programme despite his lack of experience two years ago.

“I always liked the water even before I did the Endeavour Programme, but it just seemed like something that was a bit unachievable because of how expensive and pricey boats are,” he said. “But, it’s definitely made boats a lot more accessible to me and it’s definitely been an enjoyable experience being out on the water almost every day.”

He thinks it’s a programme that could benefit many young Bermudians whether or not they know how to sail.

“I believe it’s something that’s very important to most people, especially Bermudians, because we are surrounded by the ocean and there are so many jobs relating to the maritime industry that most people don’t even know about.

“It kind of just opens your eyes to all the possible roads that you can take in your search for a career,” Jahshon said.

“I had no idea about boats before I started this programme. Everything that I’ve learnt, I have been able to apply to real life and I definitely have a better understanding of the water and of the maritime industry, of the boating community and things of that nature.”

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