Saturday, July 18, 2009

Boat work... the other full time SOFTIN job

Anything that has to do with boats comes with a hidden agenda… boat work. SOFTIN’s good deeds are no exception. For every hour spent with our special-needs passengers, there is an hour and a half worth of boat work to do.

A SOFTIN day begins at the office getting the paperwork ready and progresses to the boat well in advance of the time we plan to meet the passengers. The boat must be cleaned and made safe and presentable inside and out (even though it may have been cleaned after a trip the day before… there are birds around the harbor, don’t ya know). Life vests must be checked. Curriculum supplies must be checked and stowed in a readily-accessible location. There must be time to check the boat’s electrical systems, navigational and hazard avoidance systems and steering. We start and warm up the motors, while listening to the latest reports on the marine radio station. We begin the passenger manifest and prepare the mandatory paperwork for the passengers or their caregivers to read, fill-out and sign.

Now the real fun begins. Once the passengers arrive the crew is thoroughly enjoying ourselves meeting and getting to know the people, fitting life vests and giving a safety orientation so that everyone feels and behaves safely. Now we get to cast off and work through our curriculum, tailored to meet the special needs of this particular group of people. We are flexible enough to bring the adventure to life for the people we serve.

After the trip and the passengers leave, more boat work remains. We go to the fuel dock, fill up and return to the slip. We write logs and file paperwork. We stow safety gear and curriculum materials where they belong. We clean the boat again, just as thoroughly as before the trip. Finally we lock up the vessel and go back to the office to catch up on business matters and line up more SOFTIN excursions before going home to a much-needed meal and a well-deserved night’s sleep.

There may be a lot to it, but SOFTIN work is bliss because it is deeply touching to help special needs people so profoundly.

Capt. David Bacon
Executive Director,

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