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Meet the Barbas family from Oyster Bay NSRI

When five out of six members of a family join the NSRI, you know that together they will be an unstoppable force!

Mom Ciska (rescue crew), dad Alwyn (Class 3 coxswain), and kids Danica and Mechiel (junior crew) all joined after Christabel, who at 18 became the youngest person in the NSRI’s history to become a Class 4 coxswain.

Family values

“I have always loved the sea and it is important to my husband and I that we teach our children responsibility, accountability, perseverance, and to respect all life. Not only can they learn all this within the NSRI but learning all of this is also something we can do together as a family,” Ciska says.

“It is awesome to see how the kids grow and what they achieve, as well as the life skills they are learning,” Alwyn adds.

Working together is not without its challenges. However, the family agrees that the pros far outweigh the cons. Christabel explains, “Sometimes it can be challenging because we all have very high expectations of one another, but it’s also super fun. There’s nothing better than saving a person’s life with your family by your side.”

Ciska, Alwyn, Christabel and Danica all agree that being a part of the NSRI and, more specifically, the Oyster Bay team, has made them feel like they are part of an even bigger family.

“Our team in Oyster Bay is special!” Ciska enthuses. “Because we are such a small station and community, we are very close-knit. We live together, work together and socialise together, so when we go out on a call, we go out as a family and not just as crewmembers.”

“They are strong and intelligent people that you can learn so much from,” Danica says of her team.

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Young Mechiel has a few other reasons for loving the NSRI in mind – he enjoys the boats, learning about knots, and pretty much everything he gets to do as part of the junior crew!

Learning curves

In addition to teaching the Barbas family all things NSRI-related, the organisation has also taught them some valuable life skills.

Christabel has learned to always stay humble, to trust people and to learn from mistakes, while both Danica and Ciska have learned a lot about teamwork.

“I am homeschooling my 11-year-old son and I must say that after doing navigation, Geography makes a lot more sense,” Ciska jokes.

“To quote the old saying, ‘the more I learn the less I know’,” says Alwyn. “It is really a tremendously wide field and there are so many legends to meet and learn from.

I am especially grateful to my family, my NSRI family and the head office training team for their support ­– and the gray hairs that they are all giving me!”

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