Life on a boat in the San Juan Islands

In college they tell you that before you enter the “real world” you need to do all you can to try and get as much experience as possible. Typically the best way to do this is to do internships. I have been fortunate enough to have two internships while still in school, and they were amazing!

On top of Mount Constitution over looking the San Juan Islands.

Never did I think that one of my internships would actually let me do what I love and allow me to travel while filming, but it did. I was selected to join an internship program that consisted of a research team of college students that would be traveling through the San Juan Islands creating a guide book. All of this was going to be done while living on sail boats for a week. I went along as the videographer for a documentary that the company was having produced.

This was my first time being able to go out into the real world and put what I had learned in school into action. Needless to say, I was stoked!

The internship over all would consist of weeks of preparation and research on the locations to ensure that I could get the right coverage at the right time. I stayed in constant communication with my supervisors to stay on track with what needed to be completed but other than that, I was in charge of all of the details.

When the time came for the actual trip I was nervous beyond belief. I had spent so much time making sure that I was ready and had all of the information and equipment that I needed. Yet, I was terrified that I would mess it all up. What would happen if I made the trip all the way across the country and then I realized, and they realized that I wasn’t as good as I thought I was?

At that point it was do or die. I gathered up my courage and packed my bags with camera equipment and outdoor gear, grabbed my plane ticket to Seattle and headed out the door of my house in North Carolina to my next big adventure.

The crew working together to raise the sail.

When I finally got to the Seattle airport I met up with the research group and waited for the rest of our team to arrive. In this short time we went from awkward first-time-meeting acquaintances to an excited  group of friends going into the unknown.

Life on the boat was something else entirely.

I was on the bigger of our two boats, the Christelle, that housed 12 of us while the other 8 stayed on the Maggie. Our sleeping arrangements consisted of two to a cabin on what was basically a glorified twin bed. It’s safe to say we all got pretty close with our assigned roommates. In all seriousness, I loved everyone on my boat. During the days when we would sail to our destinations we would all sit on the top deck piled in blankets looking out over the water at the beautiful islands, or we would sit at the table below deck stuffing our faces with Doritos.

Full harbor on one of the islands.

We learned how to sail and work as a unit to keep our boat going. This was one of the most eye opening parts of the trip. A group of college students from all over the country with all different personalities came together to, for lack of a better word, survive on these boats.

When ever we would stop off on the islands we were able to discover the uniqueness of each one. A handful were vacant and full of wildlife and hiking trails while others, like Friday Harbor, were full of people that had come to the island looking for more in life. One of the most insightful islands consisted of a small population and a farm of nuns.

On the islands we met so many interesting people and talked to them about their lives and why they had decided to move to these islands. Some were sick of their hectic lives on the mainland and wanted a change and some were looking for a way to give back and learn how to live self sustainable. A great as this island life seemed, I was made for the city so I don’t think I’ll be putting up a permanent residence there anytime soon.

Orca whale breaching the water.

At the beginning of our trip we all sat together on the deck of our boats eating dinner and talking about the one thing we wanted to experience before we went home. Mine was to see orca whales in the wild to which I was told was extremely rare. As luck would have it on one of our last days we recieved a tip that a pod of orcas was in the area. We took a detour and set to chasing the whales. I busted out my camera was was completely blown away by what I saw. A mother and father whale swimming together with their baby.

The footage I obtained that day does have some embarrassing soundbites of me shouting things like “THIS IS THE COOLEST THING I”VE EVER FILMED!” and the like. I had gotten to experience the one thing I had been holding out for the entire trip and was not let down in the slightest.

When the trip finally came to a close we were all sad to go. There I was a week earlier worried I would be counting down the time until I was able to go home, and now I was holding on tight to my new friends and crew. We all made a point to hook up on social media and promised each other places to crash at our prospective sides of the country. I still stay in touch with the girls from my boat and know that they would keep their word if I ever found myself in their neck of the woods.

The crew after our first official day out.

Overall this experience was one that I never saw coming. It took a random ad on and a shot in the dark to land this incredible opportunity. I am so glad that I sucked it up and decided to face my fears that day. If I hadn’t, I would have never learned what it takes to go out into the world and actually work in my field. For that I am eternally grateful to the Global Treks and Adventures for allowing me to tag along and be a part of something incredible.






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