Notes from Lake Minnetonka
For those of you who are Seinfeld fans, I say to you, “The sea was angry that day, my friends….”
I started to write this as a humorous account of Nova’s very own three-hour-tour on Lake Minnetonka on June 11, 2018, but as I kept thinking about it, it morphed into something else. First a bit about me, which you may or may not know: I was a yacht master for seven years, with over 100,000 nautical miles to my career (about 70,000 as master of the vessel). I am a lifelong sailor, with over half a century (yikes!) of experience.
Nova’s 30th anniversary celebration started (how else?) with a cocktail party. I thought the event would be fun, allowing us to put faces to the names of friends and colleagues we have known for years. For me, it was better than anticipated, and Nova’s best assets were on display: the skill, cooperation, and positive attitude of its people.
We left the dock, on a seemingly benign tour, on a three-deck, faux stern paddle wheeler, The Lady of the Lake. It started to blow, and the boat was heeling (nautical jargon for leaning) a bit. It began to blow harder—and rain. Nova staff naturally put down the curtains on the middle deck to provide some protection. Drinks were poured. Conversation and laughter were in full force.
The wind picked up, and the boat started to heel more. I thought about those large open windows down below and how close to the water they were. This could get serious. The wind increased. It was well over gale force; by some accounts, we saw gusts of 70 mph. That is over hurricane strength.
The crew came through the cabin yelling to roll up the curtains. They seemed concerned. I realized why, though many didn’t. Still, by the time I put down my beer and turned to the curtains, they were already being rolled up, on both sides of the boat, by about ten Nova employees. Here is the heart of my story: Nova people jumped to help, without even needing to know why it was required. The Lady of the Lake immediately responded by settling more on her keel and standing more upright.
Still, the wind blew.
The captain worked us into the lee side of an island, somewhat protected on two fronts. Loud thumping noises came from the top deck. Once the wind died down a bit, we went up to investigate. The PVC lawn chairs had blown down the deck and, in some cases, were launched overboard! While we were on the top deck, a length of PVC trim about 25 feet long ripped off the deck and blew through the air, striking Reggie and me. I have been shipwrecked before, but this was another story! We decided it might be prudent to go below….
While some of the passengers were oblivious to our peril, others estimated how close the shore was, in case we needed to swim for it. Some made sure to locate life jackets. These people understood what was at stake.
All told, we spent about an hour and a half out there on the lake, jogging into the wind, until the captain deemed it safe to return to the dock. In a calm and capable manner, he protected his boat, crew, and passengers.
But what remains my strongest memory of that evening is that Nova personnel jumped to help when there was an emergency. I think that you can tell a lot about a person, or an organization, when you see how they respond in a crisis. Some may not have known it was a crisis, or maybe I am overstating the danger, but there were boats that capsized on the lake that night.
I was impressed at the Nova response that day, and this is what sticks with me. In the words of Jimmy Buffett, “You can sail on my boat any time!”
VP – Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager
Nova Consulting Group Inc.