Nautical by Nature

Dylan Adams with something we have no idea how to work.

Dylan Adams with something we have no idea how to work. Angie Theillman

Dylan Adams in his second year of the nautical sciences program at BCIT’s Marine Campus. Sure, he attends classes in North Vancouver, but he’s been representing BCIT all over the world on a 13,000-tonne cargo ship.

“This past spring I did three months aboard an international ship, the Zelada Desgagnes,” he told me. “I sailed the Mississipi from New Orleans all the way to the Gulf of Mexico and from New Orleans we went all the way up to Iceland.”

Adams’ ship then continued via Spain, through the Suez Canal to Djibouti, delivering a cargo load of windmills on their arrival. And that was just the way there.

The route sounds exotic when compared to the average BCIT student commute, and in Adams’ program, students alternate time between the classroom and working at sea.

“It’s a big learning experience … you spend half the day working on the bridge, taking part in all the navigational duties and assisting in navigating the vessel, and for [the other] half the day you do deck-work and help maintain the ship,” he explained.

What inspires a guy who grew up in east Vancouver to find work on a cargo ship in the first place? The credit is likely due to childhood summers spent on one of B.C.’s tiny Gulf Islands, where his grandparents had a cabin.

When he was nine, Adams’ grandfather encouraged him to save up his allowance and then helped him purchase a tiny sailboat. This was the first sailing that Adams had ever done. He says it sparked his interest for being on the water.”

His interest further developed after high school when Dylan moved to Squamish and completed Capilano University’s wilderness leadership program.

“[The program] really changed me a lot. It got me into climbing and paddling and really got me into sailing,” he says.

After Capilano, Adams explains how the pull to pursue a marine career at BCIT got the better of him.

While travelling in Australia, he met a guy who needed a hand sailing a catamaran down to Tasmania, and he jumped at the opportunity.

In his program at BCIT, Adams is gaining the knowledge and experience to help him earn “the big ticket”, officially known as his Watchkeeping Gate Ticket. When he earns this designation he will be qualified to pilot anything from a little sailboat to a 300,000-tonne super-tanker.

With any number of possibilities on the horizon, you have to wonder what the future holds for Dylan Adams.

“At the end of everything I’d like to run my own business, [with the help of a] charter boat or some kind of offshore sailboat where I could take students around, teach them sailing,” he says. “I’d like to keep travelling a lot, but ultimately I’d like to be in B.C … I love the islands.”

Figuratively speaking, the 22 year-old sounds unquestionably grounded, but literally, he’ll soon be out to sea.[hr]

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