Fresh out of college, I was working two jobs and living in a basement sublet in the Bronx. Twice per week, I would take the subway for an hour and 45 minutes (each direction) to a job I was miserable at, and while I sat on that train, I read back issues of SAIL Magazine and made a plan.
It took a lot of cold emails, a regular volunteering stint on the Waivertree, a blog about ocean racing and asking a lot of regattas if they had an extra seat on their press launch for someone looking to expand her portfolio. To get experience on bigger boats, some Fridays I would walk a mile to a train, then take a bus, then drive two hours to meet up with a J/121 race crew on Saturday morning (nine hours in transit) and then do it all again in reverse on Sunday.
I figured if I kept working in media production during the week and learning/networking in the sailing world on the weekend, eventually, the right job would open up and I’d be the right candidate for it. I’m the first to admit it was a scrappy operation, but it also let me explore many different facets of the sailing world. From climbing the rigging to do maintenance on a historic tallship to the day I lucked into a spot on Jérémie Beyou’s IMOCA 60 during a pro-am race, I really got to see the breadth of the sailing world.
And that was all before I had a press pass. In fact, all told it was about three years from the lightning strike moment—I saw Corinna Halloran’s onboard photos from the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race and thought “oh, that’s the industry where I belong”—to my first day with the magazine.
No job is perfect, but this one has been such an extraordinary experience. I have met so many sailors, and the grace and generosity with which they have shared their stories is amazing. The fact that I also get to travel, sail, and write about it all is really icing on the cake. I couldn’t be more grateful to do the work I do.
I guess what I’m saying is that if something is calling you, you’re never too inexperienced or too unconnected to start doing the prep work. Whether it’s buying your first boat or a multi-year circumnavigation, the opportunity is always on the horizon, so what do you have to do to be as ready as possible when it comes?
Pay your dues. Ask for help. And, most of all, if you’re lucky enough to have a dream that’s calling you, listen.