Maya Broeke ’17 talks about Quest, her love for sailing and her next big globe-spanning adventure.
Maya’s Question: How can nature inspire us?
Of all the schools…why Quest?
I really wanted a university education that would help me navigate my own unique path in the world. When I applied to Quest, I didn’t really know what that path would be yet––but I knew I wanted the ability to make things happen for myself. Quest seemed to promise that sort of learning more than other schools.
Okay, tell us about this awesome sailing expedition you’re embarking on!
My partner and I plan to sail around the world. Last winter we met a couple who spent 22 years sailing around the world. They saw every single island, made friends in every harbour, and sailed in every ocean on Earth. That’s our goal. We started last summer in the Mediterranean and explored the French canals, Sardinia, Corsica, Minorca, and the coast of Spain.
Next, we want to explore a bit more of the Mediterranean, and then maybe head up north to see Holland, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden…there’s a lot to see! In a few years, we’ll cross over the Atlantic and start exploring along the East Coast.
That’s so cool! What made you decide to start sailing?
The sailing dream has been a long time in the making. I dreamed about sailing around the world all throughout high school, which is a bit funny since I barely knew anything about sailing. In my second year at Quest, I got a sailboat given to me for $1 by some random strangers who I still haven’t met. I fixed that boat up and lived on it during my last year at Quest. After graduating, I got a job on a tall ship sailing around the Mediterranean. There, I met my partner, and now together we’re beginning our long-term sailing trip.
So, what’s the game plan?
Right now, we’re focusing on financing the trip. I’m creating short films about our voyage and the huge boat restoration we underwent, which I share with our audience on YouTube. That’s actually proving to be quite successful, and we now have enough viewers to support the journey financially. We’re also spending the winter in Switzerland working “real jobs” to save up. Boats can present you with a lot of unpredictable and large bills, so figuring out the finance side is a necessary part of a journey like this. After this winter is over, we’ll move onboard full-time.
One of my big goals is to get involved with some conservation work. I’m in touch with a couple of marine biologists who own a sailboat in the Mediterranean that they use for research, and I hope to start collaborating with them on a few of their projects. We have the unique opportunity to see a lot of places that are only accessible by boat, and I hope to use those opportunities to contribute to marine conservation related projects, either by collecting data or by offering our boat as a platform for other scientists or students to visit some of these places.
Any challenges you expect to face?
The biggest challenge most sailors face is weather. Our plans are constantly changing according to the whims of the wind. This summer we did a three-day crossing with extremely rough weather. We couldn’t even stand up in the boat without being thrown against the walls! Forget about cooking. When we tried to sleep, we were lifted from our bunk every time we crashed down a wave. The tiniest of tasks becomes a colossal effort in conditions like that. We were just focussed on keeping ourselves and the boat safe…and on trying to throw up over the side instead of all of the boat. Yup. Fun.
What’s something special that Quest taught you about life?
Quest taught me how much it’s possible to learn in 30 days. I can’t even begin to explain how invaluable that is. Sailing requires an incredible amount of diverse skills. You need knowledge in woodworking, fibreglass, electrical engineering, diesel mechanics, sewing, plumbing, sail handling, anchoring techniques, storm techniques, weather forecasting, and navigation.
When you sail to different places, you need to learn new languages quickly. And when you want to sail long-term like we do, you need to figure out the financial side, which in my case involves learning about business, filmmaking, website design, writing, and even how to self-produce an album. Quest taught me how to learn quickly, efficiently, accurately, but still with a great deal of depth. Those are very important skills.