Why I’m Seeking the Sea
Or, My Sailing Cover Letter
By Jackie Leavitt
“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.”
— John F. Kennedy
My commitment to the sea is nothing new. I think, like many New Englanders, I have always had pride about our salt water: our fishermen, our lobsters, our taffy, our adventurous hearts. My sister and I grew up on the water: sailing sunfish on summer days at our camp in Massachusetts; body surfing in the white foam rolling into our favorite New Hampshire beaches; riding a small fishing boat out to the Isles of Shoals each summer.
Water is synonymous with home, which is why I refused to move far from the ocean. I chose San Francisco as my new city after college not for its cascading hills, but for its near-encirclement by the Pacific Ocean. But despite my visceral attachment to the sea, it has always been my older sister and best friend, Vickie, who has been the water baby: going to college for outdoor education; cooking and crewing aboard small sailboats and large tall ships; navigating a little boat of her own in Maine for small day sails.
And so it is poetic that when Vickie recently decided to turn away from the water-based professions in exchange for nursing school, it was the exact time when I realized working on the ocean was what I wanted to do. I left my office job in San Francisco in February and hopped on Bueller, a Beneteau 393, for 18 weeks, making our way from the Dominican Republic to Trinidad. A “fun escape” from “real life” quickly morphed into a core belief that life is short and should not be lived in a box, but out in nature, where you can feel the salt on your skin, the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. The universe gave me a reality check on what was important to me: nature, travel, people, good food, languages and writing.
Now, after waiting out the hurricane season in Colombia, my goal is to find a position on a sailboat as a cook, steward, or deckhand — or some combination of all three. I have been cooking all my life and hit my stride on Bueller, whipping up breakfast, lunch and dinner for the crew. My time aboard also pushed me to become a better sailor, with trimming the sails, navigating in daylight and by night, anchoring and mooring, and taking solo night shifts on crossings. And my previous waitressing and hostessing experience makes me confident in being an incredible and friendly steward.
This is my new life, and I am determined and excited for it to begin. I am an incredibly hard worker and a very honest person, and I will do everything in my power so that you are proud to have me aboard. I really appreciate your consideration for me to join your boat family.
May the wind always fill your sails,