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Sailing for Success: Using Experience to Navigate a Digital World

As a digital agency, we spend a lot of time in the virtual world by the nature of our projects. A great example of this is our work with NGS Super, which was completely digital. Sometimes though, when we’re not doing experiential projects, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole wide world out there.

For the past four years, I’ve spend some of my time in that wider world as a volunteer crew member on the Tall Ship James Craig, based in Darling Harbour near the Maritime Museum.


The James Craig at home in Sydney Harbour

First of all, a little history lesson. Don’t worry, I’ll make it quick! The James Craig was built in Sunderland, England in 1874, and has circumnavigated the world 21 times as a working ship. She was restored after being abandoned, with the work finishing in 2001. Since then, she has regularly sailed past the Heads on day sails and participates in many major events in Sydney.

In my time on the ship, I’ve learned a lot about seamanship (obviously) and life on the sea from the brave men – sometimes as young as 12 – who sailed centuries ago. But I’ve learned so much more. I’ve learned about myself and my limits, how to communicate problems and solutions, and what to do if things don’t go according to plan.


The James Craig sailing the high seas

The Trip

Perhaps the most challenging experience I’ve had in my life was the round trip to and from Hobart on this magnificent ship. I wanted to experience something that few people get a chance to do and push myself. During this voyage, we worked 24-hour rotating watches, performing all the necessary tasks like helming, hauling, looking out and safety patrols – even in the pitch black of night! It was on this trip that I learned my limits went further than I thought, which helped me grow as a person, and I discovered what it’s like when people rely on you to do a job.


Testing one’s limits proved a daily requirement once onboard

During our trip, we encountered heavy seas, high winds and enormous fatigue. There were times where the situation was scary, and I thought twice about what we had to do. But it was never truly dangerous. We just had to put our trust in our commanders and get on with the job. Needless to say, they got us home safe and sound.

However, throughout the scary times, the quiet nights on lookout and those times we had to climb up one more rung, even though we were exhausted, a valuable lesson was learned; where our limits were and how to manage them. I learnt that I could stay awake at 2am in the morning when I put my mind to it, but that equally there are times when I couldn’t stay awake to help the others out because I needed to catch up on sleep.


Nights could be both a blessing and a curse aboard the ship

The Lessons

On the ship, when there’s a job to be done, you and the team are there to keep each other safe and get the job done properly.There are days where everything is fine and it’s smooth sailing. Other days, it feels like you’re going against the current and you’re stuck in the middle of it all. Regardless, they take care of you and you take care of them. This is the greatest thing about the tall ship community and the people who form it.


My home away from home: the James Craig crew

This trip was just about the most gruelling experience I’ve ever been through; passing through Jervis Bay on the way to Hobart, we were even caught by the tail end of a cyclone. This left most of us sea sick and exhausted, with all the pitching and rolling, and it was only Day 3 of the passage! That being said, I’ll always remember the first magical sight of phosphoresence; when the bioluminescent plankton rise to the surface at night to reveal a beautiful starscape in the bow wave and wake of our ship. It was even more beautiful when the dolphins joined us, leaving their own sparkling torpedo trails in the sea.


Our struggles were rewarded with the beauty of being at sea

The Relevance

On the James Craig, we are all part of a team with a job to do. It’s the same here at S1T2. I’ve found that the team here is hard working, and we help each other out when we need to. I would consider the members of my team as experts in their field, but we also love our beer, food and cool stuff, which make us a fun bunch to hang out with.

But above all, the team at S1T2 is quirky. And it’s our ability to bring each of our unique perspectives together to form cohesive solutions that really sets us apart. This is the strength of our team. Unfortunately, we can also be a messy bunch, so if you come and visit you can expect to find sports equipment, electronic equipment and odd bits and bobs around the place.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about what you read, contact us at creative@s1t2.com.au