Vail Youth-Where Are They Now?

On the High Seas with Calley Davenport

Spotting wildlife, whale watching, glacier cruises on a 100 ton – 200 passenger vessel or keeping things ship-shape on private yachts in the Caribbean, it’s all in a day’s work for Calley. Currently, she is a First Mate for Major Marine Tours out of Seward, Alaska. Working in the maritime industry, her time is shared seasonally between two of the most beautiful places in the world, the waters around the Kenai Peninsula and the Caribbean Sea. Calley’s goal is to be a Captain of her own vessel, booking private trips and sailing the seas. This requires sea time, studying and mastering various skills like navigational technology and then completing proficiency testing. She is making her way through the ranks and has done everything from cleaning the deck, spotting wildlife, managing deck hands, caring for guests’ needs, and learning the various mechanical systems on board. She always looks for a senior crew member who will be a mentor. Each ship’s captain is different; each has some new knowledge to share that helps her move closer to her goal. In two years she has risen from Deck Hand to First Mate.

Calley moved with her family from Tucson to Vail when she was seven. Royce and Jane, her parents, had been driving her every day to Acacia Elementary for first grade from their home near A Mountain.  Calley attended Acacia, OVMS and Cienega H.S., her first job was as a tour guide at Colossal Cave. When she was about 10 she and her family were docents at CCMP. She helped build the Tortoise Habitat.  Calley still keeps in touch with a few of her hometown friends, but as time passes, adult lives become busy with work, family and children. Calley’s life path and career goals are different from most. She has chosen a lifestyle that keeps her going from place to place. She is always exploring and looking forward to new discoveries. But, there are a few close friends she won’t lose touch with.

Calley and her family love the outdoors. She grew up exploring the desert around their home, Rancho Milagrito, in Vail and enjoying the oasis that is Lake Patagonia to the south. Those family outings created an early connection to the water. They all loved kayaking and being in the water. Her parents began organizing the Southern Arizona Paddlers to do an annual lake clean-up. Calley and her brother Wade were an important part of the crew at Lake Patagonia. Her path to the sea was a serendipitous one. She decided to take a break from school; a family friend recommended that she spend time at a tree center in British Columbia. She took her first sailboat excursion and absolutely fell in love with the water, and with the Pacific Northwest. Eventually she will make a home base in that part of the world.

Next she had to chart a course that would lead to a maritime career. That course led her and a friend to work in a Salmon fishery in Seward. There they learned about a school in Florida that offered basic training for those planning to work in the maritime industry. She and her friend packed up, left Seward and headed to Florida.  Calley completed the training, but wasn’t able to find work right away. This time tested her commitment to her goal, but she is so glad that she didn’t give up. Finally a break came when she heard about Major Marine Tours. Now she summers in Alaska and winters in the Caribbean. When guests are on a yacht the work can be 6 days a week and 12-18 hours a day. But, when the yacht docks and the guests have gone ashore the crew is released for some personal time. That is Calley’s opportunity to explore and experience magical new places.

Calley is a long way from Rancho Milagrito, the home she grew up in. She is far from the beautiful desert landscape where she first learned to observe and care about nature, and where she learned from her parents the value of giving back to the community you live in. Vail will always hold a special place in her heart. But, her hand is at the helm and her life’s course is set. It is a life on the water for Calley. Sea lions, whales, puffins, porpoises, the blue water and sands of the Caribbean and the crisp beauty of the Aialik, Cirque and Holgate glaciers on the Kenai peninsula are all part of a work day for Calley. With the wind to her back, I believe she will one day be the captain of her own vessel.

“Ships are the nearest thing to dreams that hands have ever made.” -Robert N. Rose                         J.J. Lamb, 2016

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