Mariner teaches crewmanship to young sailors

Mariner1
Tim Queeney
Marine educator Dave Stuhlbarg on board the schooner Harvey Gamage.

The call to service can come from any direction, even from the past. In Dave Stuhlbarg’s case, it came while he was sailing a 78-foot ferrocement ketch across the Pacific. Stuhlbarg received an email asking him to consider participating in a Maine-based sail training program giving young people experience on tall ships — and maybe also helping them fall in love with sailing.

Alex Agnew, president of Sailing Ships Maine (and publisher of Ocean Navigator) sent Stuhlbarg the message suggesting he come to Sailing Ships Maine’s Portland base to see for himself. Stuhlbarg, whose maritime experience ranges from driving a San Francisco pilot boat to sailing as master of the schooner Californian and chief mate on the schooner Westward, liked the idea.

The call from Agnew traveled a long way, not only in miles but also across decades. The two first met in 1977 when Stuhlbarg was second mate on the schooner Westward and Agnew was a student participating in the Williams College-Mystic Seaport program in American Maritime Studies. The two hit it off, and Agnew renewed the friendship with his mid-ocean email that started with the question, “Remember me?”

A Harvey Gamage crewmember prepares the schooner’s tender for departure.

Tim Queeney

A recent early September afternoon found Stuhlbarg aboard the schooner Harvey Gamage at Portland Yacht Services, where 12 young people from the Maine Youth Center were on board to learn something about sailing, and perhaps themselves, during a three-hour sail aboard a tall ship. Stuhlbarg, acting as an educational consultant, was eager to assist Sailing Ships Maine in its core mission of sail training and thereby growing the pool of new sailors.

“I can be of service in many areas,” Stuhlbarg said, “touching the lives of others through sailing crewmanship.” For Stuhlbarg, who is retired after his last job as a pilot boat skipper for 14 years, the definition of crewmanship is larger than merely knowing the correct line to pull. In his post-retirement travels, Stuhlbarg spent some time in New Zealand teaching a program of life skills he dubbed “The Way of the Voyager.” He described it as a mix of maritime skills with lessons about self-actualization and being a good steward of the planet, the larger vessel on which all humans are voyaging. “I’m devoting the rest of my life to help others discover who they are, and to share with others how to discover their own true nature.”