Captains At Heart interview series: Amy of English Sailing

amy templin sailing interview
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Introducing Amy Templin—magnetic and bullish about living life to the fullest—Amy leads an annual multi-day sailing trip for young adults to learn about life and language on the Mediterranean. She's the first interviewee in our Captains at Heart series, where we share the stories of diverse people who live, love, and work at sea.

Diversity is critical to the survival of the ocean’s natural ecosystem and we believe there’s something to be learned from that. Boatim’s mission is to lead a new era in the maritime industry—not only with product innovation—but also by redefining the narrative around who lives, loves, and works at sea. We want to debunk outdated assumptions and showcase the diverse definition of Captains at Heart.

Introducing Amy Templin, magnetic and hard-working, our first Captains at Heart interviewee is bullish about living life to the fullest. Years ago, Amy left her home country to live in Rome, Italy. As a dedicated teacher, she's found a creative way to help her Italian students not just learn English coursework, but garner an appreciation for life's greater gifts like camaraderie, respect for nature, and the gratification of a day's work. Amy leads an annual multi-day sailing trip for young adults. The goal? To teach them a little something about life, using sailing as a learning tool. Join us in hearing the stories of diverse people around the world who live, love, and work at sea. 

captains at heart interview amy cropPhoto provided by Amy

Rapid fire intro...

Introduce yourself: Amy Templin

Where are you from?
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Where do you consider home base now?
Rome, Italy

What is your profession?

How many years have you spent sailing?
This year was my third year!

Which do you prefer: horsepower or wind power?
If the question is which is more fun—windpower hands down. I hate being idle! 

Which boat style do you prefer: classic or modern? 

Of course I love a good modern boat with all the bells and whistles, but not if it comes at the cost of the manual labor! That is to say, I don’t like boats that are too modern where you can hoist the sails by simply pressing a button. I like to be on my feet and working…but with a comfortable bed to slide into at the end of the day!

Are you a skipper or a sunbather?
A bit of both.

Which body of water do you want to explore next?
I would love to sail around Greece!

Tell us about your sea and sailing stories

You’re not originally from the Mediterranean, but have you always loved the water? How would you describe your relationship to the sea? 

It’s true, I am not from the Mediterranean. In fact, it took me a while to get used to saying “sea” rather than “ocean”, but I’ve always loved the water. As a child I spent every summer either in the pool or at the beach (talking about the Atlantic Ocean here). I had never been sailing before I went three years ago, but after the first time I was definitely hooked. There’s something so unique about experiencing the sea far from land. I had always been a beach bum, but always firmly grounded. While it’s true that being at the beach allows you to relax and unwind, being at sea, far from the shore gives you an entirely different sense of tranquillity. 

Can you describe your annual sailing excursions?

Every summer I work for a company called Education Sport based in Rome, Italy that hosts a sort of ‘summer camp’ you might say. It’s called English Sailing and it gives kids from the age of 11 to 17 the opportunity to spend a week at sea with other kids their age. We sail around Elba Island (off the coast of Tuscany) and Corsica in a fleet of three boats (all sailboats of about 12 meters). Aboard is an Italian skipper and a native English speaker so the week is spent learning to sail, practicing English and, of course, having fun! 

youth sailing camp in italyPhoto provided by Amy

Besides English, are these trips just about fun? What else do you hope to teach the kids on these unique adventures?

There isn’t exactly one single aim. Of course, the advertised goal is to spend a week at sea fully immersed in English, but our true goal runs so much deeper. We aim to give the children a completely new experience and push them to step outside of their comfort zones in more ways than one.

For some of these kids, it’s their first time on a boat, or even the first time they’ve ever truly been in contact with nature. For others, it’s the first time they’ve had an opportunity to speak English with a native speaker. And for a surprising number of them, it’s the first time they have had to fold their own clothes, make their own beds, or wash the dishes! I guess you could say that our aim is to help them grow—whether that means discovering a passion for sailing, learning how to live in close quarters with other people, or practicing their English, we just want them to walk away with something new.

How long are they? 

The trips last 7 days and 6 nights—we meet the kids and set sail on Sunday and come back to port to say our goodbyes on Saturday. 

Do you sleep on the boat? Of course! 

How did you originally get involved with the organization, Education Sport? 

I met the founder, Ermanno Guidi, three years ago through a friend of mine and jumped on board immediately (literally and figuratively)! Since then we’ve worked each year to improve the experience for all those involved.

What's the team that runs these with you? 

There is an Italian staff of Skippers with a passion for the sea that work throughout the year to put this camp together, run by Ermanno Guidi (with the help of various professionals in PR, accounting, etc). Then we have the English staff which, more or less, comes along for the ride each summer!

Are the students experienced sailors or newbies? 

Some have sailed before while some have never set foot on a boat, but relatively few are experienced sailors. That being said though, after three years of running the camp, quite a few have developed a passion for sailing and have continued throughout the winter to take lessons and participate in regattas.

Did you have experience sailing before this? If not, what has sailing meant to you since learning? 

I had no experience before English Sailing, but now I look forward to it each year. I love learning about the boat and how to adjust the sails. I’ve also come into my own at the helm. I used to be petrified to steer, but after 12 weeks total over the last three years I finally feel like I can hold my own!

young women sailingHistorically, depictions of characters at sea tended to be men. Think Moby Dick, Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea. I mean, the name for a professional sailor is a “seaman.” Is there something special about these trips including both young men and women?

I think there is something special about the female presence on board because it gives the kids the opportunity to tear down gender stereotypes (a theme we address often throughout the week). At the beginning of each week we divide the campers into groups of two and assign them a role each day.

So for example, the first day Maria and Giacomo might be “Captains of the day”, then the next day they’re on kitchen duty, and the day after they have to clean and wash dishes. By rotating these daily roles, everyone has the chance to step into a role that’s completely new to them. Sometimes the best sailors are the girls while the boys take pride in their role as chefs! 

What have these experiences taught you? Anything about people, nature, your own life and dreams?

A better question is what haven’t these experiences taught me! First and foremost, living in such close quarters with strangers (and teenagers) teaches you patience, especially when you consider that a lot of the kids have never washed a dish, cut an onion, or even made their bed! But this experience has also grown my appreciation for nature in a way that I could never have imagined.

There is something so peaceful about being out in the middle of the sea as the sun is setting and hearing only the sound of the wind or star gazing with absolutely no light pollution. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it and I miss it from August when I step off the boat until June when I board again! 

What is your favorite part of these experiences?

I'm going to go with my top three favorite parts! First of all, I LOVE seeing wildlife—fish, turtles, jellyfish, dolphins, etc. In fact, this year we were fortunate enough to sail with a school of dolphins for about twenty minutes as they played under the bow! That was an experience I will never forget.

Secondly, there is a day when we wake up at about 4:00am to set sail for Corsica (a journey of about 5-6 hours from Elba Island) and I get to watch the sunrise from the middle of the sea. That is one of my favorite days of the year. Lastly, on a more personal level, I love forming strong bonds with the kids. We often say that a week on board is like a year on land because in such a short time we are able to create such strong bonds that allow us to really talk to the kids in a meaningful way.

We’ve had open and honest discussions with these teens about everything from alcohol and drugs to self-esteem, from gender roles to racism, from respect for the environment to respect for your parents. You name it, we’ve been able to cover it, and I think we all walk away from the experience with a new perspective, myself and the skipper included.

Has there ever been a scary moment onboard?

Luckily there have never been any seriously scary moments on board! I’m not sure you could classify it as scary, but it definitely got my adrenaline pumping when we went from a calm afternoon to 30 knots of wind and sideways rain in a matter of seconds. I had to take down the mainsail and secure it with a bowline knot because the stack pack had broken. All of this in a storm and 30 knots of wind! 

How do you feel before and after the trip? Do you notice a difference in yourself?

Besides the sun-kissed tan and the land sickness I can’t say I feel much different, but I definitely miss the boat as soon as I step foot on land!

amy templin sailing interviewPhoto provided by Amy

What does “Captains At Heart” mean to you?

I think that the sea can bring out the best or the worst in a person because it gives you a choice: either you choose to embrace it, fear it and respect it or you count the seconds until you’re back on land. And I believe that choice represents an excellent metaphor for life. Choosing the first option takes guts, but it is ultimately so much more rewarding—I think that making the decision to live in the moment, breathe in the salty air and enjoy the ride is what truly makes you a Captain At Heart.

Is there a common quote that you and your crew like to say or live by?

We have a few common sayings that often bounce around! One of them is quite applicable to my anecdote about the scariest moment on the boat and that’s: Il buon marinaio si conosce al maltempo which more or less translates to, “you know who the good seamen are when the storm comes.”

However, my favorite is: Il mare e’ come il veleno, una volta entrato nel sangue, non esce più. Or, "the sea is like poison, once it has entered the blood, it never leaves.”