Growing up in landlocked Montana, and while lakes and rivers are stunning, they have never called out to me like the sea. My biggest goal was to get out of Montana as fast as possible to explore the world.
Makes sense that I joined the military right out of high school. One sure fire way to get out to sea- US Navy. I spent 9mths at sea my first year on an aircraft carrier. Countless days without seeing any land or other signs of life besides our naval fleet that was crossing the Atlantic with us. Over those months I was fortunate enough to sail four of the seven seas. Even though living on a ship of that size, was almost like being back in small town Montana. We had 5,800 sailors onboard that maiden voyage and only 800 of them being female. I was a fish out of water, but I instantly felt at home when we left the dock . When seas could get mighty with waves over 40ft high crashing onto the flight deck, or when I would get tossed out of my bunk when going through a hurricane, or spending hundreds of hours on watch—I gained the respect of the ocean and she respected me.
The water is the fire of connectedness to my soul. The freedom that the open water gave me when the salty sea air first kissed my face was all I needed to know I was finally where I was supposed to be. I hadn’t felt that security before-that I have your back and she’ll have mine. Of course, this wasn’t always the case. I have had my struggles with mother ocean just like any other relationship, it ebbs and flows. The boat rocks and sometimes it sinks. Sometimes you can find a lost treasure within that sunken ship if you dive deep enough. And a lot of times I’ve been alone treading water. The most humbling part is when you get back up, get behind the helm, and change your direction to the next port.
Like a fisherman casting a net out to sea, you never know the opportunities that will come your way. If you keep your heart and mind open, like mother ocean, then you will be guided by the north star. Be like the birds and fly above the surface to avoid drama or danger from others.
I took as many opportunities as possible that I could to keep me living out at sea after the military, but not under the control of a commander in chief. Military lifestyle ultimately was not for me.
I was introduced to a small industry working on private yachts. I took my first job as a deckhand on a 165ft mega yacht. I joined the boat in Mexico and had no idea what it would be like. Ironically, as an American yacht crew novice with primarily foreign yacht captains, sharing that I had background experience in the Navy was a hit against me. Being a female deckhand was hard enough to “fit in” to at the time. I did not need any other judgement coming at me for volunteering to serve my country. I had never met anyone that worked on a yacht, let alone own one. The more I got to know the industry and other “yachties” I was able to pick and choose what size of boat I wanted to work on and their ocean itineraries. I preferred smaller yachts with less crew=less drama. There was many invaluable, unrepeatable, mind blowing moments I experienced on the ocean over the 10yrs I worked in yachting. I got to cross more oceans, transit though the panama and Suez canal a couple times and see places you can’t find on a map. Swam with a grey whale, humpback whale, dolphins and even penguins in the Galapagos. Jumped in feet first every. Single. time.
Was I scared of the mystery under my vessel, yes. Did I fear being in open water alone, yes. Did I let that stop me, no. It all goes back to the water, my first and lasting true love. Although, I may head off course, I know I can . Most days from the shore or my paddleboard with my trusted co-captain, a four legged sailor, is more likely. Keeping my eyes on the horizon to not miss the green flash that ignites the fire again in my soul.
I am reminded that I will always be brought back to where I need to be.