With the wind in their sails

Apprentices take to the water

“Together we are stronger, together we can achieve more” sums up this year’s apprentice team training programme. In order to put it into practice, we rented two sailing vessels at the start of the new school year. Previous generations of trainees went sailing on the Ijsselmeer in the Netherlands back in 2012 and 2015 and were delighted by the activity, particularly its positive influence on practical team cooperation.

This year’s crew was made up of 51 apprentices from Kuhn Special Steel and M. Jürgensen, along with their respective supervisors and some old hands from the boat-rental firm. Our physical destination was the island of Terschelling, with team-building as our shared objective. Conquering the power of the waves demands working tightly together as a team.

All together hoist the sails! Teamwork was demanded at this year’s apprentice training. It turned out:
We are a strong team.

We learned this lesson, as a big picture and in great detail. The details included proper provisioning for the trip, so team members were selected to run the galley, and we met up before departure to discuss victuals and obtain supplies. Then it was time to raise the anchor and set sail from Harlingen, in the northern Dutch province of Friesland. The picturesque town boasts a charming collection of old houses with stepped gables, but we had little time to appreciate the local sights, as deck-duty called; the call of the sea, or rather the skipper’s orders. Before we could set sail, he had to acquaint us with all the on-board rules, discuss the route with us and teach us the main sailing manoeuvres. It all boils down to this: it is not the wind, but rather the sail, that determines our course; an important lesson that applies equally to modern business life.

A regatta with seals

The following morning, we set out to sea. Manning the vessel was a hand-to-hand affair, but the Poseidon was a gracious host, and we sailed smoothly into the harbour of the West-Friesland island of Terschelling early in the evening. Lying about ten miles off the North Sea coast of the Netherlands, Terschelling is an island of long, sandy beaches, undulating dunes and other delights well worth getting to know, which we did.

The return trip was to be more competitive. Boat against boat. Once we’d established the rules of combat, it was all hands to the sails. Just before setting off, we managed to spot some seals on the sandbank. As the wind picked up, we set course for Harlingen at a speed of seven knots and both vessels were almost there by the afternoon.

Stormy sea. A fresh breeze helped the regatta.

When we finally arrived, the crews were able to chat about their experiences – no doubt embroidered with a sailor’s yarn or two – and record the experience forever in the form of unforgettable team photos, before returning to the training centre by coach. The sailing trip certainly blew a blast of fresh sea-air into our training programme!

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