Accounts and Audit Manager, James Waters, has spent the last few months sailing around the Indian Ocean. As his trip nears its conclusion, James sent us some thoughts on his experience. From turtles and lion fish, to dolphins and pirates, read on for more on James’ exploits.
Now that we are nearing the end of our travels, I have begun to think of the experiences that have affected me and the lessons I have learned.
We have seen some incredible natural wonders in terms of both living creatures and breath-taking landscapes. I have swum with turtles the size of bicycle wheels, sailed with dolphins and flying fish, walked with giant tortoises, seen and swum with Rays, watching them leap out of the sea and backflip in the air. I have even seen the occasional lion fish swimming past, although thankfully when not in the water myself!
We have been to places with road users so crazy that driving seems to be an attempt to take a swift path to the afterlife and visited communities where motorised vehicles have only recently arrived and are thankfully rare, preserving the natural charm of their unspoilt island.
It is the people that we have met that have had the most profound impact on us. These span a huge range of lives, including: a chap from Kathmandu in Nepal working on a market stall in the Seychelles as he makes his way through the world, retirees completing the last stages of their circumnavigations and Kenyans taking people out on fishing trips, who welcome us with beaming smiles and delicious fresh fish on their return.
One gentleman who we have become friends with, has a fascinating but terrible story which he has kindly allowed me to share, as it is takes the matter of uncertainty over the future and resilience to a whole new level.
We met Gilbert on Mahe, where he now works as the captain on a privately owned sports-fisher motor yacht. Gilbert is one of the kindest, happiest gentlemen you could wish to meet and welcomed us all to Mahe with a level of hospitality very rarely seen nowadays. He has worked most of his life on the water, all over the globe, as a delivery skipper. In 2009, on a delivery trip to Madagascar, normal life was flipped on its head when Gilbert became the first Seychellois to be captured by Somali pirates while on transit to Assumption Island.
During his captivity, he was forced at gunpoint to use the boat he was delivering as a base for attacking other vessels, to hold them to ransom. The most famous of these was the Maersk Alabama; the taking of which is the basis of the recent movie Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks. Finally, after over 6 months in captivity and having almost lost hope of freedom, Gilbert was released following extensive negotiations with the Somalis, governments and private individuals and was able to return to his home on Mahe.
on working life and dealing with uncertainty…
Thinking about Gilbert’s story and how unimaginably tough those times must have been, but also his return to his life on the water after this, to continue doing what he loves, three thoughts come to mind.
Firstly, wherever possible, it only makes sense to do what you enjoy for a living or incorporate your interests into your daily working life where you can. Even after everything, Gilbert has returned to the sea as this is what makes him happy.
Secondly, we all face a level of uncertainty in life, especially in the world of business. So yes, you must plan ahead, but know that things do sometimes change unexpectedly; sometimes quite dramatically! This will put your skills, knowledge and resolve to the test, but facing and overcoming these challenges makes you and your business stronger for the future.
Finally, I have always known when recruiting staff that it is not just the experience in terms of years or qualifications that makes a successful candidate and future team-member. But thinking now more about why this is, it is now clearer to me that it’s really the experience in terms of challenges faced, situations that they have had to deal with and obstacles overcome, which develops the individual and makes them of greater value to a team. Of course challenges that form part of your working life are most relevant, but an ability to overcome challenges of any nature still have value by virtue of the mind-set that they create.
So maybe it’s time to think of some new questions for potential employees. We are not just looking for experience; we are also looking for experiences!
The marine industry and yachting community will feature greatly in my plans as an area of specialism that I look to develop further at work, but I am sure that this trip will have many other long-standing positive influences on my future. Going forwards it will be interesting for me to reflect on this trip once it is complete and see what impact it has on my life.