“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
Powerful women have made a mark on history since the beginning of time.
Names like Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Anne Frank and more recently Oprah Winfrey are just a few examples of women who have changed the world in positive ways by following their passions.
While women still face inequality and prejudice, now more than ever they are standing up and choosing to live the life of their dreams.
Tembo celebrates resilient women and has had the pleasure of crossing paths with some incredible female business owners who are crushing their goals and creating a life of fulfillment and passion.
An Unexpected Encounter
Last year our Tembo founder, Ben Platt, was spending time with a group of business associates in the British Virgin Islands #DeliveringSuccessFromAnywhere. It was a beautiful sunny day on the water. Ben had been admiring the luxurious yachts in the bay when something caught his attention.
A marvelous 52-foot sailing yacht motored into the harbor and effortlessly anchored near the beach in the midst of all the smaller yachts. Everyone in the area was intrigued and wondering where this fantastic yacht had come from and who it belonged to.
From Ben’s distance he could see several men on the vessel along with one woman…and guess who was captain?
That’s right. Captain Dawn Marie of Captain Dawn Marie’s Yacht Charters.
Ben and his associates made a point of meeting Dawn and her crew and they were immediately inspired by her story.
How It All Started
Dawn grew up with a mother who she describes as “tough as nails” and a father who is an ex-Navy seal. From an early age Dawn was a rambunctious child who could always be found outdoors.
By the age of 12 she began scuba diving and one of her first jobs was at a marina where she was allowed to take the boats and jet skis out during her down time. Dawn immediately fell in love with being on the water, especially boating, and her father taught her about safety and proper maintenance.
At the age of 20, Dawn decided to pack up her belongings, hope for the best and head for the Caribbean. She showed up in St. Croix and within a few weeks had landed a job on a boat. Looking back, she comments that being both fearless and sometimes even a little reckless had allowed her to just go for it.
Dawn’s time crewing taught her valuable lessons. While she learned what to do while on a boat, she especially learned what not to do. In fact, she had several negative experiences with captains who made bad decisions and gave her orders that could have put her in danger. Dawn struggled with needing to obey the captain, but also knowing their orders could be harmful.
So what did she do?
She decided she would become a captain so she could call the shots and got her own commercial captain’s license!
Once Dawn got her captain’s license, she moved into freelancing for several clients and shortly after she decided to start her own business. She worked out an agreement with boat owners who wanted someone to look after their yacht and was able to manage it and use it to run charters.
It was a crazy first year trying to figure out how to run a business, but Dawn was grateful to have experience and connections from freelancing.
Leveling Up Means Overcoming Obstacles
As she became more business savvy she decided her next goal was to buy her own boat by the time she was 30. She came across an investor and before she knew it she was having a boat built in Bordeaux, France.
An important lesson Dawn learned shortly after was that sometimes you don’t have any other option other than to just suck it up. Believe it or not, Dawn is susceptible to getting seasick, but only for the first few days of being on the water after taking a break. While her boat was being built she spent about one month on land so when she got back to sailing it was a pretty miserable first couple of days.
Dawn recalls being on her new boat on her 30th birthday while sailing through the Bay of Biscay. She was violently seasick and kept questioning her decision.
“What was I thinking?”
As she came around the coast of Spain she seriously considered calling it quits. The idea of just giving up was so tempting, but she knew she had to keep going.
After two days the seas calmed and her sickness went away. Dawn was glad she powered through and didn’t quit because she ended up sailing all over from Portugal to the Canaries and the Caribbean.
Another obstacle Dawn faced occurred just a few days before she was supposed to sail across the Atlantic.
While she refers to her mother as being tough as nails, we think it’s safe to say she is the same way!
She had gotten a piece of glass stuck in her foot that ended up forming a really painful cyst. Barely able to walk she ended up seeing a doctor in the Canary Islands who told her they would need to do surgery. Dawn knew she was supposed to leave in two days. She didn’t want surgery!
So she went back to the boat and gathered rubbing alcohol and a sharp razor blade. We will spare you the details, but she practically performed minor surgery on her own foot! Her crew still joke about it, but her foot healed quickly and she ended up being fine and was able to cross the Atlantic.
Making It Happen
Dawn is a prime example of how women are breaking into industries that have previously been considered male dominant. The world of yachting has long been known as a boy’s club. However, Dawn had a dream, a vision and a passion and stopped at nothing to bring this to life.
Her chartering business has allowed her to combine her love of the sea with her appreciation for hospitality. She knows the experience that she wants people to have and will do anything to make sure families and groups on her boat always leave with wonderful memories.
It hasn’t always been sunshine and salty air for Dawn and her business. She has dealt with plenty of adversity and has had to constantly learn how to stay humble, remain calm and overcome challenges.
Not only has she learned how to do things like repair diesel engines and all of the other intricacies that go along with maintaining a yacht, but she’s won multiple competitions and has created a thriving business doing what she loves that has now evolved into something she never could have foreseen.
For anyone who has experienced Dawn’s hospitality, it’s clear that she’s not only extremely hard working, but genuinely cares deeply about others.
Dawn is an inspiring example of the progress women are making all over the world when it comes to business. She has proven that when you believe in yourself and your vision you can make anything happen and have fun while doing it.
While spending time with Captain Dawn, Ben and his associates came across a quote from Winston Churchill that resonated with them, and with Captain Dawn:
“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the Courage to continue that Counts.”
Courage became a huge theme for Dawn after meeting Ben and his group. They were all able to share great conversations about obstacles and what it means to be courageous in difficult situations.
Dawn’s Takeaways For Entrepreneurs:
- You really can do anything you put your mind to
- Learn how to break down every issue and obstacle to find solutions to problems
- Make your goals a true priority
- Manage your emotions and thoughts – don’t take things personally
- Never give up, but know when to walk away
- Be prepared for any obstacle, even when the obstacle is you
- You can’t achieve your goals without being willing to self-analyze and make necessary changes
- Never take no for an answer – a solution can always be found
- Pick yourself back up immediately – without failure you won’t learn anything, you have to keep going
- Don’t be intimidated, but stay humble
- Admit when you’re wrong and fix it immediately
- Choose your company carefully – you really are the company you keep
Currently, Dawn still runs charters occasionally, but her passion is now focused on personal development and growth for herself and others. She is coaching, speaking and in the process of writing a book.
Being back in the states for her has been a game changer after being in the Carribean for ten years. Her biggest challenge now is learning how to adapt to a new lifestyle and create new habits and structure. Of course, Dawn meets this challenge with grit, faith and eagerness.