Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: Jake Jarosz

Jake Jarosz, a Senior Managing Associate with Hagerty Consulting, Inc.’s (Hagerty’s) Preparedness Division, is leaving Hagerty for a few months to sail the Atlantic Circuit. We sat down with Jake to find out more about his upcoming journey.

Could you tell us a little bit about your big adventure?

I’m doing something called the Atlantic Circuit or Atlantic Loop. It’s a circumnavigation of the North Atlantic Ocean starting out at the Chesapeake Bay. I’ll travel from Annapolis to Cape May to the south side of Rhode Island to Connecticut and then Canada, including Halifax and Newfoundland. Each one of those trips will have a two day stop to gain supplies and switch crew. It’s about 1300 miles from Newfoundland to the Azores, which is probably the most challenging leg of the trip. It’s the second longest but has less consistent winds. The Azores is part of a chain of islands in the North Atlantic and serves as a pit stop en route to Europe. My wife will meet me there for a 10 day holiday before I head to Spain. From there, I’ll have three months to kill before the end of hurricane season and my return trip back across the pond. In that time, I’ll make my way from the north side of the Iberian Peninsula to the Canary Islands, with stops planned in Portugal and Morocco.

Timeframes for this trip are dictated based on Atlantic Hurricane Season. The time going West to East is planned to be May through June/early July before hurricane season hits. The time to come back will be after hurricane season’s peak activity. By the beginning of November, I need to be in the Canary Islands for the start of the longest leg of the journey, which is 2,700 miles from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean. That should take about 30 days, for arrival just before Christmas. Then, I’ll round it out and make my way back home.

You mention in your blog that you’re inviting people to join your crew. Who’s taken you up on the offer?

Mostly friends of mine, including a guy I know from the volunteer firehouse. Another guy who lived with me in Indonesia is going to fly up from Texas to sail a leg. I also found other people in online communities who want to make the trip, but don’t have their own boat.

What was the inspiration for this trip?

If you want to trace it back to one moment: when I was coming back from Indonesia, I was inspired by Liz Clark, who sailed across the Pacific to Tahiti. I’ve always been drawn to the ocean and spent a lot of time on the water. I lived in Hawaii, Haiti, and Indonesia growing up, and my dad used to take me out in the Pacific for fishing around the Hawaiian Islands in his 28 foot powerboat. We’d always go kayaking and canoeing. When I was 7, we moved to Wisconsin, and my dad used to take me up to the boundary waters in the summer, which is a chain of hundreds of lakes between the US and Canada. After hearing about Liz, I began reading books about sailing, like Bernard Moitessier and Joshua Slocum. From there, I started taking sailing classes and hunting for a boat. Along the way, I found that there’s a whole community of people who do these sailing journeys, and I began to try to connect with them. According to Google, there are about 5,000 people who do an Atlantic crossing a year. So, this trip really traces back to my love of the ocean, the water and adventure.

There’s also an introspective piece, too. Introspection isn’t something we get to do in our daily lives. We get caught up in all the little things we have to do. Our lives on a day-to-day basis are fast paced. People ask why I don’t just fly to Spain, I’d get there quicker, but that’s not the point. When you’re on the water, you have to be present and trim the sheets, make sure you’re eating right and keep a watch on the water. Life is a lot simpler. I want to slow down. I don’t want to go 3000 miles per hour. I want to go 5 miles per hour and appreciate the time I have with the people I’m with.

Do you feel like your career in emergency management has prepared you well for this journey? If so, how?

Absolutely, I think it’s given me the ability to think through problems. This trip requires a lot of planning, research, and physical labor. I can’t pay someone to work on the boat; I have to do it. I’ve outfitted the boat with everything from electrical communications systems to analog systems to control the direction, sails, the rigging, everything to keep the water out and the rig up. My career in emergency management has helped me to manage stress and understand my own personal reactions to change. And also, from a project management standpoint – everything requires a lot of time and effort. I have my own project list and task list, kind of like a simpler version of a project management plan, that estimates hours, resource needed, etc. I could not have done this trip without those skills.

What do you hope to bring back to your professional life from this trip?

A renewed sense of commitment and passion for our ability to help others and a new perspective on the way we do things. I’m not going to be engaged with the emergency management community in the Azores or the Canary Islands, but I believe the ability to reflect on and connect with your own personal growth has a strong correlation with your professional life, too. I’d like to cultivate a renewed passion and interest and a greater understanding of my own skills and abilities.

What places are you most looking forward to visiting?

The places aren’t what I’m looking forward to; if that was the case, I would probably change my location to Iceland and Scotland. For me, it’s really about the trip itself, about the sailing, about life at five knots and slowing down. But that being said, I’ve heard wonderful things about the places I’ll be visiting – I’ve heard Newfoundland is wonderful and remote. It’s very sparsely populated for how big it is. I’ve heard the Azores are phenomenal – great people with a very localized culture. There’s a story about a guy at a farmer’s market in the Azores who asks if the cheese a man is selling is local. The seller responds, “No, it’s not local. It’s from Pico!” Pico is an island right next door, so you can see it’s a micro culture, where everything is locally grown. I’m looking forward to the remoteness. To me, looking at things isn’t the point; I like meeting new people and overcoming new problems. That’s probably what draws me to emergency management, too. Our job is to look at and solve problems for our clients, either through lessons learned or innovation. That’s a direct comparison to make with this trip.

What do you anticipate missing the most about Hagerty?

It’s the people. Hagerty has some wonderful, motivated, and extremely dedicated people. I’ve had great mentors. A lot of people at the firm have gone above and beyond to help me grow professionally and personally. It’s a demanding environment, but there are support structures in place to help you succeed. At the end of the day, life is about the people in your life, and Hagerty has some of the best.

You can follow along with Jake’s travels at his blog highs-lows.com.

Jake Jarosz is a Senior Managing Associate with Hagerty Consulting’s Federal Disaster Preparedness practice. He has over 10 years of experience as an emergency manager. He obtained his master’s in public administration in May 2017, with a focus in Emergency Management, and is a published author. He also moonlights as a volunteer firefighter and engine officer with the Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department, and as an Adjunct Instructor with Jacksonville State University.