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Living the Dream, or Nightmare? Help Me Tell All

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I need your help to launch your resource for nautical news, opinion, culture, lifestyle & salty tips. Research-backed by writers & industry experts. For anyone that looks out longingly to boats at sea & for those brave enough to put them there. 

Come Sailors, stink potters & landlubbers alike: Here to dispel the myths & bring forth the reality of what it really means to “live the dream.” 

I’m raising funds to recuperate losses caused by persistent abuse & bullying I’ve experienced as a young female sailor. From coercive predators to sexual assault, to not being taken seriously despite my experience and accolades.

I’ve worked tirelessly to bring light to these issues, often at my own expense. No one within the industry has been willing to listen to my story, or the countless other women’s stories, about pervasive dangers and threats we face within sailboat cruising culture. I’m creating a platform and media campaign so we never have to stay silent again. BOAT GIRLS (dot) NET

I need your help to:
-handle bureaucratic matters
-complete an ocean rescue training course
-Finish my investigative report into the abuses of power within the sailing community & publish across mainstream media platforms

-Boat storage $500
-Ocean Rescue Course $250
-CPR & First Aid $100
-Web and podcasting hosting $150
-Travel Expenses $200

Total= $1200

Thank you for your donations! -Emily, SV Teal, 1963 Tripp 29, Coming [email redacted] @dinghydreams [email redacted]

Creative nonfiction disclaimer: some details and locations have been changed to conceal identities.

Ahoy there!
Welcome to the dark side
of #boatlife & #livingthedream
I'm Emily! An east coast sailor, journalist, and community connector. I’m here to talk about the pervasive abuses in the marine industry, cruising culture, and ocean sailing media— that have caused me and adjacent communities direct harm. This is my story.

I knew it was a great privilege the first time I ever stepped foot on a yacht in a foreign country to cross an expanse of ocean, but I had no idea the sea was not all that would be dangerous to navigate. Looking back, naive and completely unaware, I’m grateful for what my first captain taught me, and that he never took advantage of his role. But that didn’t stop his first mate.

The only reason I got on that boat and was introduced to sailing was that they lied to me. Now I was in the middle of the ocean with two men twice my age I barely knew at all.

It could have been a lot worse…

I determined to carve out something for myself at sea despite how I’d arrived there, but sadly I had yet to learn the ropes. There was only one way to get on boats that I knew. I was psychologically terrorized by a prolific blogger over twenty years older than me. Physically trapped on his boat in the remote waterways of British Columbia’s Desolation Sound. It took a few times but I finally got off that boat, too. To this day he still haunts me.

I got my own boat. I got better at looking out for myself. The danger became more obvious. A con artist on the edges of the gulf stream. A Neo-Nazi in a north Florida boathouse. But sometimes it was less apparent: the famous YouTube videographer. The state hero. Or, even more unfathomably, my beloved mentor, and friends I’d known for years. I was brainwashed by an engineless eco-fascist, put on his hit list along with others. Was intimidated out of a harbor, in 20 degrees by a self-proclaimed arctic explorer. Screamed at on the crests of giant swells in the western Caribbean by a hippie. Pushed into gales by a wealthy confidant.

I was bullied out of paid work from marinas to boatyards to sail lofts. They called me a slut, a bitch, and crazy. I was followed, chased, flashed, nearly run over—by their boats and their cars. I was told I didn’t know how to sail. Told I’d never go anywhere and wasn’t worth anything until I did. From strangers on the internet to the boys I dated, to random men in the boatyard.

A man I’d just met, whose wife and daughter had just been there too, put his hand up my skirt while we were looking at my chainplates down below. This was the night before I was set to leave on a trip. The season was getting on and I had to sail alone on a boat so wrecked I’m still fixing it. My former circle shamed me for not setting off “sailing it around the world.”

Despite a questionable introduction into the world of sailing yachts, my boat handling skills became next level. I made friends with world-class yachters. I was published in many boating magazines. I scored sponsors. It looked like a dream come true.

If asked for advice I said don’t do what I do. I’d made a deal with the son of Poseidon. I hung around snakes.

I didn’t value myself or my boats. I made repairs haphazardly. I hit rocks. Snapped tillers. Fell of course sleep deprived in the middle of the night dodging ships. Lost steering. Lost self-steering. Ran into fishing boats. Ran over lobster pots. Ran aground. I was punished by storm fronts. Marooned on remote coasts. Sucked backward through tides. I ran out of power. I ran out of water. I ran out of food. Living aboard with no sink, no toilet, and no cushions. No showers. No money. I could have easily lost my boat.
I could easily have lost my life.

Alone on the black ocean, or an empty sound, a barrier island—in the middle of winter, or a tropical storm.

A violation by my long-time sailing hero. A peer’s alleged sexual offense and his fan base's death threats. A domestic violence incident involving a semi-automatic weapon and an ex-boyfriend, who I met through followers of my blog. And, in a culmination of sorts, a prestigious New York Yacht Club member with whom I had an agreement, kicked me off his dock after denying his advances. He was 70.

The damage was done.
I had PTSD so I witnessed abuse everywhere. It wasn’t my mind playing tricks on me. Sex trafficking and cults at a cheap marina. Meth heads in the anchorage. Rigid gender roles on yachts. Incestuous industry practices. And everyone who upheld it. By saying and doing nothing. Including myself. I think that was the worst part.

I couldn’t afford to maintain my boat, let alone my life. So I lost my driver’s license. Health insurance. My boat’s documentation expired. I felt completely disenfranchised. I didn’t want to work in the industry. I didn’t want to write. I didn’t want to sail. I didn’t want to be a girl. I didn’t even want to be alive. But I knew I had to somehow get my boat to safety, finish rebuilding, and not give up the ship. And I started to see the good again.

How I survived
From harbor to harbor I studied shipwrights, boatbuilders, riggers, yacht brokers, and harbormasters. The backbone of the industry. The safety net of the sea. The real salts. They took me in like a stray dog. They made me one of their own and taught me everything I know. We could talk for hours about servicing winches, or the best way to thin varnish, the composite of chrome-plated bronze. Eventually, I knew enough to no longer be undercut.

Other dedicated sailors and adventurers befriended me; psychologists, a national geographic photographer, engineers, young families and old-timers. My family and oldest friends from school also helped remind me of who I was.

I didn’t need to go so far out to sea alone on an unequipped boat, for people to love me or to love myself. The famous sailors I met were big fish in a small pond. Their great voyages were failed suicide missions. I did not want to follow in their footsteps.

The facade of the lifestyle began to crack. The backdrop of the calm harbor blurred and reality came into focus. Living the dream was a waking nightmare. From that first time I stepped onto a boat in the South Pacific, to seven years later in the sailing capital of the east coast on my boat.

The mast lights twinkling around me looked like a city of sails. It was a calm night at anchor when I got a call from the same place my story began. It was another American sailor girl calling from her satellite phone, on her boat across the world. She said she needed to tell me what had happened to her…

I wasn’t alone. #MeToo

“If you want peace, prepare for war.” -Yves Gelinas, circumnavigator & filmmaker.



Emily Greenberg
Oriental, NC

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