I arrived in Costa Rica early May (2018), not knowing what to expect from working at Astillero Ceiba del Mar (also known as SAILCARGO INC). I remember lying awake in my bed in the hostel in Alajuela (near San Jose) thinking, “what if it’s nothing like I expect?” as well as “this is crazy… I’m in Costa Rica for my university internship, what a chance of a lifetime!” As it turns out, working at the shipyard was (and is) nothing like I expected…
I am a 4th year student at Maine Maritime Academy located in Maine, USA. I study International Business & Logistics and during the last summer before graduation, all IBL students must do a summer internship to test their skills in the working world. I spent a part of 2017 making connections with managers and professionals in large international corporations – it was all about getting the best name to put on your resume. It wasn’t until sometime in the autumn semester that I started to consider my personal passions and convictions for the conservation and protection of the earth, and all things nautical, when searching for a placement. That is when I heard about SailCargo and the Ceiba project.
Flash forward 6 months, and there I am – bright clean white shirt and bulky suitcase standing in front of the blue gate with the colorful “Astillero Ceiba del Mar” sign. From the first sight of the jungle shipyard – the coconut and banana trees, the open kitchen with the rusty roof, the half-fallen cashew tree, I knew this was going to be an adventuresome summer.
The days passed quickly, full of chainsaw buzzing, hammering, welding, sewing, and the tap of computer keys. The majority of my time I spent creating guides for cargo handling and ports, but whenever I had the chance, I tried to help with the outdoors work. I can’t say I was expecting to be weed-whacking, hoisting canvas roofs or updating the plumbing system during my internship. Now I am sitting at the large kitchen table wishing there were more canvas roofs to hoist and plumbing to work on.
Something else happened with each passing day – my confidence in the project and ability to see its potential and vision grew. It is truly a beautiful project. I felt that I was called to this project because of my love for the seas and the natural beauty of the world. It is rare to find groups such as the one I have come to call my shipyard family. Working here is a special (and at times challenging) mix of work, “family-like” life, and relaxation. The lazy weekends at the beach or on the verdant Finca Jardín in the mountains passed quickly full of precious memories of swims in the frigid Rio de San Luis, delicious fire-roasted dinners accompanied by the laughter of friends, and the constant longing to stay for a few days more…
I am going to miss working and enjoying life here at the shipyard, but I am happy for everyday that passed during my time here in Costa Rica.
Forever the shipyard baby,
Samuel provided us with an impressive level of dedication, hardwork and results. The logistics handbooks that Sam has created will be used by Ceiba when she is sailing cargo voyages.
We truly look forward to welcoming Sam back after his graduation, and extend a warm ''thank you'' to Sam and the Maine Maritime Academy.
To students who are thinking about coming to our jungle shipyard for their internship, we look forward to hearing from you.
Together, we can #SeaShippingChange