Charting Our Course: Women Who Ignited Our Marine Journeys

Charting Our Course: Women Who Ignited Our Marine Journeys

4 minutes

From fearless sailors to workboat drivers, marine scientists, and daring explorers—join us in celebrating the Women Who Ignited our Marine Journeys this Mother’s Day. 

You don't have to look far these days to find inspiring women on the water. From people like Moira Brown, a Canadian scientist doing vital marine life conservation work, and Cole Brauer, who just became the first American woman to race solo, nonstop around the world, to—and perhaps most importantly—the women in our families, workplaces, and communities, we are surrounded by those who thrive beyond land. 

For some of us, it started before we could even remember. We weren’t fully awake when our moms bundled us up and carted us down to the boat, often before first light. That's when fishing is the best, they say. For others, it started with a chance trip on a friend's sailboat, spending long summer days sorting prawns on their family's trawler or renting a kayak for a particularly adventurous stagette. No matter how it began, what many of us have in common is our introduction to the ocean came from a grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, or female friend or mentor.    

These are some of the women who hold special places in our hearts for igniting our imaginations and demonstrating our potential.  

Suzy Wisely is the Station Leader at RCMSAR—Ladysmith on Vancouver Island. Nearly finished her coxswain training, she's been on 81 missions and trained for over 1389.25 hours. 

  Suzy Wisely RCMSAR Station 29

Amanda Garcia, with her mom, Cecilia Ortiz, is discovering the joy of sailing together, creating cherished memories. 


Amanda and Cecilia Sailing

Carol Solbach, raised in California, is a lifelong water enthusiast. She surfs, windsurfs, sails, paddles and has recently discovered winging. Carol spends her days on or near the water, sometimes just walking her dog along the shore. 


Carrie and Carol fishing

Christine Pitkanen's love for water adventures blossomed after meeting her husband, Bruce Kirby. Her nervousness turned into excitement during their first sea kayaking trip, and now she inspires Bruce with her passion for exploring wild places. 


Christine Pitkanen paddling

Jenny Hansen comes from a long line of mariners. Reconnecting with her roots, she recently earned her Domestic Vessel Safety certification. "I don't know yet where this will take me, but it's one step closer to being on the water," she says.   


Jenny Hansen paddling

Embracing motherhood, Julia Levasseur introduced her baby Alex to sailing adventures early on. "I feel it's important to show we can be moms and still participate in the activities we love," she says. 


Julia and Alex sailing

Karen (KJ) Johnston, originally from South Africa and now in North Vancouver, is a dedicated member of RCMSAR and part of a sailing co-op. Known for her helpfulness and killer dance moves, she inspires others with her positivity. 

  Karen Johnston RCM SAR Member

LaRae Baker, Ardis Logan, and Jennifer Wenstob are a few of the women whose lives exemplify resilience and warmth while living in remote areas of Canada's West Coast, facing adversity with fortitude and kindness. 


LaRae and Danielle Baker in power boat

Jill Davidson draws inspiration from her daughters Ruby and Hazel, teaching them to respect and enjoy the ocean while fostering a love for exploration and adventure. 


Jill Davidson and her daughters Hazel and Ruby

Connie Waddell, raised on the Bamfield Coast Guard base, once sprang into action when a male friend fell overboard during a late-night outing. Without hesitation, Connie executed the RHIOT school rescue techniques she'd seen so many times, swiftly pulling him out of the water to safety.

Connie Waddell

From a mundane work commute to kite surfing around the world, these women hear the ocean's call and embrace it with open arms, fearless and unyielding—and if we are lucky, they take us along with them.  

It's not just their physical prowess that inspires us—it's also their spirit of adventure, their thirst for discovery, and their unquenchable desire to explore the unknown. They are the ones who push boundaries, challenge the status quo, and refuse to be confined by societal limitations. 

For some of us, growing up listening to stories of seafaring adventures, shipwrecks, and harrowing near-death experiences filled our heads with wonder and awe, carrying lessons of resilience, perseverance, and the boundless power of the human spirit. For others, paging through old photo albums piqued our curiosity and made us realized what was possible. And still, others were given an opportunity by a woman in the marine industry that opened a whole new realm in education and career.  

Today, we raise our voices to celebrate these women; our mothers, our mentors. They remind us of the infinite potential that lies within each and every one of us. They teach us to embrace our fears, follow our passions, and live our lives with courage and conviction. We proudly carry their legacy with us as we invite the next person to leave the shore, help another woman gain her marine tickets, and tell our own wild tales of the high seas to a younger captive audience.  

May your spirits remain as wild and free as the sea, and may your journeys always lead you to new, wondrous shores. 

Author: Danielle Baker


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