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Women Take the Helm at CSA

Most visitors and residents of the USVI spend at least part of their recreational time on the water boating. St. Croix offers day trips to Buck Island, sunset sails, sport fishing, scuba diving adventures, sailing, snorkeling and so much more. Knowing many women who work in the marine industry here, I was shocked to learn that almost 92% of boat captains in the United States are male. But, here on St. Croix Caribbean Sea Adventures (CSA) is smashing that stereotype with half of the vessels in their fleet being captained by women.

While you’re guaranteed to have a fun, memorable and safe adventure regardless of which captain you get at Caribbean Sea Adventures, the fact that they have helped three of their female crew members become captains is a huge accomplishment. Meet the women at the wheel, or helm to be more accurate, of half the CSA fleet: Cayleigh Buciak, Michelle Griffith, and Allie Meyer…

Cayleigh Buciak earned her 25 Ton Master Captain’s License in December of 2020 and currently operates Inconceivable, CSA’s 42 foot sailing catamaran. Cayleigh grew up in New Hampshire and spent a few years in Miami before moving to St. Croix eight years ago. She has been with CSA for three years now.

Michelle Griffith earned her 50 Ton Master Captain’s License in the Summer of 2021 and currently operates Smooth Recovery, CSA’s Boston Whaler with twin 300HP outboards. Michelle moved to St. Croix from Utah eight years, and has worked for CSA since moving here.

Most recently, Allie Meyer earned her 25 Ton Master Captain’s License in the Summer of 2022 and currently operates Celebration, CSA’s new 41 foot luxury power catamaran. Allie is originally from New York, and moved to St. Croix six years ago from Boston.

Michelle and Allie at Buck Island geared up and ready to teach their guests how to snorkel

Getting a US Coast Guard (USCG) Captain’s License is no easy feat for anyone. At a minimum, to get a ‘6-pack license’, which allows someone to captain a vessel with up to six passengers, requires a minimum of 360 days documented boating experience. All three of CSA’s female captains carry Masters Licenses with sailing endorsements, to qualify, they all had to:

  • Have U.S. citizenship; (or, non-U.S. citizens must be able to show lawful admittance to the United States for permanent residence)
  • Pass a physical and a drug test
  • Hold a valid adult CPR and basic first-aid card
  • Obtain a Transportation Workers Identification Credential or TWIC card (this is a background check done by Homeland Security)
  • Take a Master License course and pass the necessary USCG exam 
  • Have at least 720 days of documented sea service for the Master License
  • Have at least 360 days experience on a sail or auxiliary sail vessel for the Sailing Endorsement

I spoke with Michelle Griffith who told me that the captains she crewed with at CSA, as well as the owner, Matt Ridgway, were an integral part of her journey to obtain her license.  According to Michelle: ‘Building your confidence driving the boat is the hardest part, especially when there are paying guests on board. But, the only way to get the confidence is to just do it. Luckily, I had captains that encouraged me to keep practicing, and the guests were surprisingly supportive of me handling the boat knowing that I needed the (sea service) hours to get my license.’

Three of the Caribbean Sea Adventures boats out at Buck Island

There are less than 10 active, licensed female captains here on St. Croix, so it’s unusual to see so many of them working for one tour operator. A huge shoutout to Caribbean Sea Adventures for supporting the advancement of women as captains here on St. Croix. Caribbean Sea Adventures offers Buck Island tours, snorkeling, sailing, private charters, parasailing, sunset sails and more, all of which you can book online. To Cayleigh, Michelle, and Allie, and all the other female captains out there breaking the stereotype, we wish you ‘fair winds and following seas’ in your careers and out on the water!

-Jennie Ogden, Editor


(340) 773-2628

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