Sally Jewell has been described by friends as a tough, smart, no-nonsense boss . . . except when she’s climbing a mountain or in a boat. And on that note, when the 56-year-old CEO of outdoor retail and activities giant Recreational Equipment Inc. (better known as REI) came to Greater Boston recently to check on local operations, she made sure to surprise a handful of the co-op chain’s “owners” by taking them on a kayaking jaunt around Hingham Harbor. She also took a few minutes to share with the Globe what makes her tick.