Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Profile of an OceansWatch Volunteer: Jake Navarro

Everyone gets along with Jake Navarro. From Seville, Spain, Jake’s command of the English language is excellent, however not without a strong accent that becomes an endearing part of his personality. Mild mannered, quiet and funny, Jake seems to end up at the disposal of a lot of teasing and takes the crew’s banter with stride and confidence, usually giving back a comment to put everyone in place.

He joined the OW boat in Gibraltar and began his volunteer work in Grenada.

“I found OceansWatch and it was a little like a ‘meant to be’ thing because it was just the right time, a boat going the same way I was going, doing all the things I really wanted to do. Yes, it was quite lucky that I found it,” Jake commented.

“It’s been nice to be able to do things that I think is a good direction for what I think everyone should be heading towards,” he said. “I think the whole thing with the sea and the atmosphere getting polluted has to be something that we have to do something about. I think everyone should be working in that direction. We’ve been doing little things, but in the future we’ll do more. It feels good to do that.”

Jake’s attraction to the sea started at an early age with a family house on the ocean. But sailing was something he did all by himself.

“I started sailing when I was 8 years old, it was the very thing I did on my own. I would go on the bus and go to the marina to take lessons and I think it was something that really, really got my attention when I was a child, like that was the only thing I would do.”

But going to college and work took him away from sailing for a long time. Jake got a degree in Genetic Biology in Spain and then went on to study Architecture and Film. His film studies took him to San Deigo, California where he started looking for a boat for a friend, but instead found one himself.

“I had (needed) to go back to Spain and I got the flight but I was checking on boats around the marina because someone told me they wanted to buy one and one of the boats I was checking out, the guy said he would give it to me (for hardly anything). It was a beautiful boat with solar panels. I thought it was nice, I thought it was beautiful. I loved the boat. So I flipped a coin, I canceled my flight and I stayed there for four (more) months,” he said with a smile.

“The idea was to sail it to Spain but I didn’t know what to do with the boat (how to manage it), so I started sailing every day but someone told me the boat was not fit for the trip, so I had to sell it.”

“I went back to Spain and started working but I wasn’t quite happy. I decided I would try to do something with sailing and I took further sailing lessons. I went back to the states and was trying to buy a boat there. I found someone else who wanted to learn to sail, he had no idea about sailing, it was a friend of a friend who wanted my help so I spent two months going up and down the whole California coast.”

“Then I went back to Spain and got my skippers license (in Gibraltar),” he concluded.

Sailing with OW through the Caribbean has given him great memories.

“Montserrat was my favorite. It is an island that has been, can I say, hurt or damaged but the people seem to be quite resilient. It was the most friendly and the island was beautiful. I don’t know there was just something about it.”

But sailing was only once aspect of this experience. Being a part of the OW team has made him aware of the challenges the area faces.

“The greatest challenge in the Caribbean is going to be to get people educated enough to recognize that they do have to do something for themselves---a cleaner way to obtain what they need.”

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