It’s easy to wander off and think about taking a vacation in Baja or Fiji when talking with Lisa Daisey, 29, of Millville. This past Christmas was the first Christmas in 10 years that she spent at home with her family. After 10 years of traveling and spending the holidays in Hawaii, the Caribbean or Baja, seeing the waters of the world, Daisey made it home for Christmas 2006.
“You know those little cards you had to fill it out in school, where you had to put what you wanted to do when you grew up? Well, I put travel. My dad had a travel agency when I was younger and there was a wall full of brochures. I wanted to see the movies. It was in me to see those blue waters. To see what else was out there,” Daisey said.
At 19, she did just that. She worked hard to save up money for a trip to Hawaii. She had planned to go with a friend but ended up meeting up with a different person altogether, who wanted to see Hawaii as well. They ended up at Hawaii’s North Shore.
After landing in Awahu, Honolulu, Daisey thought to herself that it didn’t look like the pictures because of its city-like atmosphere.
“Once I got to Kauai and got off the plane I knew that was it. The air smelled like flowers,” she recalled.
Daisey spent six years there, doing everything from working at a juice bar to working on a whale-watching boat, where she would show tourists how to snorkel. During her stay in Hawaii, she and a friend each bought a Circle Pacific plane ticket and got to see the Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.
“In New Zealand, we worked picking apples. Between the two of us, we picked 136,000 apples,” Daisey said. “I can’t see someone eating an apple without telling them about that,” she joked.
“My friend and I would get to these countries, buy a car, drive it around and see things, and then sell it when we were done. And it was interesting to see that there was a whole culture of people just like us doing the same things.”
It was in Fiji that she got certified for scuba diving.
“You have to do five dives to get certified, so you might as well do it someplace tropical, as opposed to a pool or something like that,” Daisey explained.
After returning from the trip, Daisey returned to her job on the whale-watching boat. And after three years she realized she had to try something new. The boat was called Holo Holo, or “To Go Somewhere” in Hawaiian. But they often joked, calling it the “Hurla Hurla,” because of the passengers’ tending to get sick.
“After getting puked on enough times, I finally looked up at the captain and thought, ‘I could drive this thing,’” she remembered.
Soon after, she started researching maritime schools and settled on Chapman’s School of Seamanship in Stuart, Fla.
“It was a structured learning environment and I was finally ready for school,” Daisey said. “I ate it up — I was studying all the time.”
Right after graduation, she got a call from a friend who said he had a job for her. So the next morning she got on an 80-foot sailing catamaran and sailed to the Caribbean as part of the crew.
“It always works out that I get jobs,” she said. “I do freelancing, and it always seems that there is a job out there.”
With networking and keeping in touch with people she’s met over the years, she stays as busy as she wants to be. She worked as a deckhand on a 150-foot cruise ship with Lindbald Expeditions. There, she was required to sign a six-month contract, so she lived on the ship.
“That job was 10 hours on and 10 hours off, straight, for six months. So it was tough. But I can add it to the list of things I never have to do again, and I got free trip out of it to the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador.”
In 2004, she returned for her first summer back home in Delaware in years, and in 2005 she started her own company, Eco-Bay Kayaking. She called the Delaware Center for Inland Bays and proposed her idea of using their kayaking equipment at James Farm Ecological Preserve, and they accepted. Her tours leave from James Farm and go out to Quillen’s Point. And she has since included full moon tours for adventurous nightowls.
Last year, after her first Christmas home in 10 years, she said she was getting nervous because it was wintertime and she was still here, wondering what she would do when Lindbald called again, asking if she wanted to work another trip.
“We joke that the lady in H.R. at Lindbald has access to our bank accounts, because she always seems to call when it drops below a certain level,” Daisey said with a laugh. That time, she worked as a steward and completed a four-month contract doing Baja trips. Just this past June, she left again and filled in for two weeks on another one of their expeditions.
According to Lindbald Expeditions Web site, they are a company focused on “finding creative ways to explore places already discovered,” and recently, Lindblad Expeditions formed a partnership with the National Geographic Society, another organization deeply committed to exploration, conservation and sustainability. As a Lindblad Expeditions guest, passengers could find themselves rubbing elbows with National Geographic scientists, writers and photographers.
They have a growing fleet of small expedition ships, Zodiacs and sea kayaks, as well as onboard naturalists and underwater cameras. They say they strive to really help their guests open their eyes to true exploration.
“We do this because we believe the more their guests connect with these incredible places, the more they will become a force for preserving and protecting them,” the company’s Web site reads. Daisey’s philosophy for Eco-Bay is very much the same.
When asked what’s next for her, Daisey said, “I always say one more year of this… but it’s hard to stop. I’ve seen tons of places and met lots of great people, and I’m so thankful for all that I have done. But I’d like to have a house one day and a garden. But, until something passionately moves me in another direction, this is what I’m going to do.”
Eco-Bay Kayaking tours will run until about mid-October, so for more information on scheduling a trip, call Lisa Daisey at (302) 841-2722.