I was an artist first, from when I picked up pens and paint in order to understand the world around me as a
I was a sailor second. I was raised on the Welsh coast, in a ramshackle cottage next to the sea. I spent my formative years exploring a landscape and sea scape that blur into one another, on a peninsula surrounded on three sides by the sea. As I grew, so did my yearning for adventure and knowledge, a
desire to see what was over the horizon.
I started working at sea when I was eighteen. One of my first sailing positions was for a professor of cetacean science, working to help a PhD student collect field data for her doctorate. Whilst working on this project, I felt that I needed to cement and expand my own knowledge of marine life, so I embarked on a degree. I could not afford to stop working to study, so I wrote and submitted many assignments in the middle of the North Sea, and while sailing in a turbulent Gulf Stream on a research project, my laptop duct taped to a table to hold it in place.This work was conducted in a highly male dominated environment, which exacerbated challenges and reduced levels of support I saw my male peers receive.
Seafaring in the western world has always been a microcosm of the patriarchal values of society, from the superstition that it was bad luck for women to go to sea, to the current statistic that only 1.2% of professional seafarers are women
(BIMCO/ICS 2021 Seafarer Workforce Report). Although this was an extremely difficult world to make a career in as a young women, sailing has taught me as much about navigation as it has self reliance, as much about reading the wind as it has determination.
In my second year of university, I suffered a spinal injury, damaging nerves, with corrective surgery required. Despite this disruption, only being able to attend for six days that year, before the days of online learning, I balanced rehabilitation, work and study, to complete all my assignments. I also took and passed my official sailing exam and became a qualified commercial yacht skipper. I graduated with a BSc in Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology from the University of Plymouth, so I became a scientist third.
The world's waters fascinated me, as did the creatures who inhabit them. The sea is so vast, a physical representation of a complexity and beauty that can never fully be understood. I felt awe and wonder at that edge of knowledge. On my journeys by sea, I started to document research trips, encounters with whales as their mighty flukes flicked towards the sky, playful dolphins, star drenched nights and painterly sunsets in illustrated field journals to preserve my memory.
These journals grew into their own entity, and form the backbone my debut non fiction, Move Like Water, which was published by Granta in the UK and Tin House in the USA in 2023 and so I became a writer fourth.
I am now based in Europe, and can often be found in my studio accompanied by my cat Neutrino or on the Baltic, where I sail and tend to a 114 year gaff cutter named Larry, of whom I am the temporary custodian.