Being at sea brought me out of my shell

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  • Arriving in Maine (Photograph supplied)

    Arriving in Maine (Photograph supplied)

  • Edward Stovell Jr on board the Spirit of Bermuda (Photograph supplied)

    Edward Stovell Jr on board the Spirit of Bermuda (Photograph supplied)

  • Arriving in Boston (Photograph supplied)

    Arriving in Boston (Photograph supplied)

Edward Stovell Jr said it took being out on the open water to bring him out of his shell.

The once-reserved child is now a reserve crew member on the Spirit of Bermuda.

At 23, he has his sights set on a maritime career. He got hooked on sailing from the first class he took while a student at Spice Valley Middle School.

“When most kids come on they just hate being on board. You have fear because you don’t really know what you’re doing, but I just jumped into it and I loved it.”

That led to a scholarship to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club’s summer sailing camp for two years running. Malcolm Kirkland, a Spirit of Bermuda board member, recommended him.

“He goes to my church and from that I was able to get on the Spirit for one of their voyages.”

By high school he was ready to brave the high seas, travelling to Nova Scotia when he was 15. On the fourth day, however, they hit a storm.

“That had a big impact on me. Being on that ship really brought me out of my shell. I was a bit of a shy child back in high school and that really changed me around,” he said.

“We couldn’t sail through the storm so we had to turn around to avoid it. It was still crappy. When everyone else was getting sea sick, I was fine.”

He thinks it is probably because sailing is in his blood. His father, Edward Stovell Sr, was the engineer on a navy vessel for seven years; his uncle, Curtis Stovell, worked on boats as well.

Despite the natural affinity, he took a break from sailing after graduating from CedarBridge Academy.

In 2011 he was brought back on board.

“It was actually Malcolm Kirkland. He called me and wanted me to come back on board to do some fundraising.

“Then he asked me to come on the Maine trip [last summer]. He kept nagging me and finally I said, ‘Yes’. I’m happy I did, really. I hadn’t done it for so long. I kind of lost the love for it. But then when I did come back on, I fell back in love with it. Now I’ve been on board ever since summer — all through December and now.”

As relief watch leader, he steps in when a full-time crew member has a day off, and is part of the charter crew.

While the trip to Belfast, Maine, was for the boat’s maintenance, he suspects it was a “kind of job interview”. It took just over two weeks to get to the port.

“It was a way of them seeing how good I am to come on as a crew member. I guess I did good,” he said.

He now aims to get a place at Massachusetts Maritime Academy to forge a career in Bermuda.

“I’d like to be the captain on board of the Spirit,” he laughed.

“After graduating I went to Bermuda College. That’s the only thing that really stopped me. I had other things going on.”

Mr Stovell will serve as a deckhand for the Bermuda Sloop Foundation’s sixth annual Pirates of Bermuda Fundraiser on Sunday.

The charity hopes to raise at least $150,000 at the event in support of the Spirit’s youth programmes, student voyages and bursary funding.

“I think [the Spirit is] important to the community,” Mr Stovell said. “It’s sole purpose is to help young people, like it did for me.

“I was a shy child and [Nova Scotia] was my first overseas trip without my parents. I felt more independent. I felt brave. I felt important; like being part of a team and that I was helping.

“Being part of something felt really good. I want to be able to help children the way the Spirit helped me — to try to change someone else’s life.”

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Published Mar 9, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 9, 2017 at 8:06 am)

Being at sea brought me out of my shell

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