While the boat show is filled with new, green crew finding their way in yachting, one would guess there are none who have traveled as far or endured as much trauma as Amelia Silverwood.
After two years in a cubicle in Silicon Valley, Silverwood moved herself to Ft. Lauderdale in October to find a job as a deck/stew on a yacht.
Now 23 and college educated, she says she looked back on her pre-teen years cruising with her family and missed the travel.
But one winter’s night during those travels, as her family’s 55-foot catamaran lay smashed on a reef, Silverwood’s father lay fighting for his life.
“The metal cables snapped and the mast fell, the spreader hit my dad’s leg below the calf,” Silverwood said, who was 14 at the time. “He was pinned under the mast for like 40 minutes, holding his breath each time a wave came.”
Finally, her older brother and mother get the spreader off but it’s not until mid-afternoon the next day that medical help arrives.
“He lost three-quarters of his blood; it’s a miracle he’s alive,” she said.
Despite going through all that, Silverwood is ready to go back to sea, making more memories, seeing more places, and meeting more people.
“Obviously, we had something really bad happen to us, but something really bad can happen no matter where you go, no matter what you do,” she said.
“When you’re sailing, you’re experiencing the real world. … You have one life; I want to experience as much of the world as I can.”
And so she’s starting with yachting, moving to Ft. Lauderdale and attending as many networking events as she can.
She admits, though, that it’s hard to tell her story in a quick greeting.
“I’ve been dayworking, but I want to be on a boat full time,” she said. “I thought I wanted to be on a big sailboat, but it doesn’t really matter.
“I want a good captain and good crew who will become my friends. I just want my first experience to be a good one.”
Silverwood’s mother wrote a book about the ordeal titled “Black Wave,” or meet Silverwood in person at the National Marine Suppliers booth where she’s tending bar during the show. (NMS also is pulling the winner of its raffle for the Quadski today at 5 p.m.)
Lucy Chabot Reed is editor of Triton Today, email@example.com.