Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Meet Becca the Sailor

Becca loves the act of sailing more than the destination. She describes her passion as an addiction. For the past six years, she has lived aboard her Bayfield 29 cutter-rigged sailboat named Angel. Becca writes a monthly sailing column for Southwinds Magazine about her journeys cruising in the Caribbean. Her column tells positive stories, full of little adventures, that make people excited about sailing.

Becca grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and spent much of her youth boating on the Great Lakes. Her mother's family are Salmi native, Laplander people who fished the Arctic Circle for hundreds of years until they were kicked of there lands and sought refuge in the Great Lakes area. Becca carries on the tradition of her native people. Recounting her youth, "I was just a tiny little baby bopping around on the boat and my parents said it would keep me quiet and calm. I knew how to row a boat, before I even learned how to ride a bike".

Growing up and even into her early twenties, Becca did not foresee her lifestyle today. " I just thought I would do what everybody in society does, get a house and career, and live the happy, happy American Dream", she explains. Becca loved college. She studied industrial and graphic design and received degrees in both communications and mechanical design. After college she worked as a product designer and purchased her first home and recreational sailboat that she took out on weekends. Soon, however, she began to notice a feeling of disappointment with her home. " I thought, Jeez, I'm American, I should be happy to have a house. I worked my butt off for that house and saved, but it just wasn't for me. It was the boat." In order to spend more time on the water, Becca dropped her job down to part-time. She started crewing for friends boats, and then found Angel, fell in love and sold the house.

Becca has met many cruising couples, but not many women who single-hand their own boat. Most male sailors are not shocked when they encounter Becca on the water. "Some sailors are curious and think, WOW, a girl, lets go out and play because there are hardly any girls out here", Becca explains. She says people on land, who don't know much about sailing, sometimes think she is a freak of nature. A woman who chooses to be alone on the unpredictable seas? But for Becca, it is about confidence and preparation. "It's not like I'm this fearless, macho person. I am not superwoman. I am an ordinary, very plain, 5-ft tall, little cheek-boned, Salmi native." Her confidence comes from being prepared, having the right safety gear, back-ups, and knowing that she has a strong, seaworthy boat.

Sooner or later Becca admits that it is inevitable that you will run into a storm. "You can prepare for the hurricanes, but you have to watch out for the nasty storms that appear out of nowhere. All of the sudden you think its a little rain cloud and then you are getting hit by winds that gust about 80 knots", says Becca. Last summer she withstood 40 minutes of hurricane force winds, hanging on one anchor . Boats around her were capsizing left and right, but she just got lucky with Angel. You can read about her storm experience in the online March issue of Southwinds Magazine.

Becca does not see herself ever getting rid of Angel. "We are pretty bonded. I love her and I will be with her for as long as I can." Her goal is to stay healthy, make as much money as she can to keep sailing, take good care of Angel, and meet other fun people out there sailing. "At first it sounds kind of selfish, but really, you find what brings you joy, the lifestyle that is true to yourself, and you will become more happy and productive in life and that joy will spread to others. Although it is not always that easy, takes courage and little steps at a time, if you find what is true to you everything will fall into place."

1 comment:

kissandtell said...

I am so glad you are writing these Meet a Stranger pieces again. I really, really enjoy them. Moreover, they are so you. :)

When are you coming to New York?