Story and photos by Tom Serio
Mermaids have been part of many a folklore, just like unicorns. But mermaids do exist and can be found at The Wreck Bar at B Ocean Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.
Whitney Fair is the essence of a mermaid, complete with a tail like a fish – at least when she is
performing. She loves to be in the water as well as on it, and prior to mesmerizing crowds as an aquatic entertainer, her life included a stint as a yacht crew.
Yacht crew are minimalists of sorts because of the restricted living quarters and typically shared accommodations. Fair was already conditioned to that, thanks to her nomadic and free-spirited upbringing. Originally from Wichita, Kansas, Fair moved quite a bit during her childhood. “I was in 11 different schools before I graduated from high school,” she said.
Her ability to live comfortably while mobile has led to a number of opportunities others would only dream of. She’s been through Australia, Thailand, Laos and Argentina; lived in Egypt and Japan; and did a 90-day bike trip in the summer of 2012 from Oregon to Virginia (yes, west to east, is actually easier, she said).
In between, she crewed on several yachts, including M/Y Seas the Moment, an 86-foot Pacific Mariner, and M/Y Current Issue, a 91-foot Burger. Fair found that crewing filled an immediate necessity when she returned from one of her global jaunts. “I needed money,” she said.
Fair spent one year on board M/Y Seas the Moment, a heavy charter yacht, with two to three charters a month and up to eight guests. She had to double up on accommodations during peak periods, which was a challenge because she is a bit of an introvert. “I have to have alone time,” Fair said.
After about a year on M/Y Seas the Moment, Fair took a hiatus and traveled across Brazil and Peru for four months on a spiritual journey.
She then moved to M/Y Current Issue under Capt. Craig Jones for a year and a half. Part of the draw for Fair to join yachting was to see more of the world and to work. She quickly realized in her yachting days that the yacht comes first.
Capt. Jones said that her work ethic was top notch. “When ‘Whit’ was on duty, she did a great job. She doesn’t skip an inch,” Capt. Jones said.
When opportunity knocks, Fair seems to answer each time. When she learned about the job opening for a mermaid at the Wreck Bar with MeduSirena and the Aquaticats, she jumped on it. Although she thought her audition went terribly, she landed the job that day and assumed her swimming name: “Nakkar.” She joined the mermaids at the pool at The Wreck Bar, which has porthole views to the pool so that patrons can watch.
“I find freedom in the pool” Fair said. “Funny thing is that when we are swimming, we can’t see into the bar through the windows, but we can hear the patrons.”
She considers being a mermaid the most interesting job she has held. The mermaids at the Wreck Bar are free-breathers, which means they perform without air tanks or breathing tubes. Fair can easily hold her breath for 30-45 seconds when performing, smiling for the guests and maneuvering with the other mermaids.
“There are four swimmers for the evening shows” Fair said, allowing for the mermaids to take turns swimming to the surface for a brief stop and fresh air.
What lessons can she share with others getting into yachting? “Some simple take-aways” she said. “Have a great time and meet interesting people. Don’t fall into the ‘desert mirage’ where you hallucinate that there may be something there romantically with another crew member, but there is not, and it’s a team effort with no room for individualism.”
Fair said she also has an unquenchable thirst for hot yoga (yoga performed in a hot and humid environment) and has left jobs to continue her pursuit of that passion. “In life, you need to put yourself first, and own your life,” she said.
What’s next for Fair? She’s living a minimalist lifestyle with her “kids,” Corn Dog the canine and Monkey the cat. There may be hiking the Appalachian Trail next year, keeping her 14-year-old car running and adding to her collection of passport stamps. She wants to continue not just her mermaid activities, but also her voice-over work. Being true to herself is important, and just like a mermaid, she likes to feel free. “I need so little,” she said.
Whitney Fair and the other mermaids on the MeduSirena and the Aquacats team perform Friday and Saturday evenings and during Sunday brunch at the Wreck Bar in the B Ocean Resort, 1140 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.
Capt. Tom Serio is a freelance captain, writer and photographer in South Florida. Comments are welcome below.