Larkin Bohn’s journey to becoming a sailor and science communicator began 12 years ago when she was living in Chicago and looking for a cruise to escape the winter weather. On the cruise line’s website, she saw a flashing “Now Hiring!” banner, and on a whim, she went to an open house. Before she knew it, she was flying to Hawaii to work the jewelry counter on a cruise ship.
Being on a boat was a whole new world, and she immediately fell in love with boat life. But she was not the type to stand behind a counter. She says, “When I saw the deckhands with their power tools and painting and driving the small boats around, I was like, that’s it. That’s what I need to do.” She explains, “It wasn’t even on my radar that I could be a sailor or captain.” When she realized she could, she started working her way up.
From the deck of the cruise ship one day, she saw a scientific research vessel in the distance, and she recalls, “Right then and there, I said that’s the boat I’m going to be on one day.” The boat was the Kilo Moana, the University of Hawaii’s research vessel.
The next time she was in Hawaii, she went to the port captain and expressed interest in joining the crew. Although she did not have the proper experience yet, he told her the qualifications she would need.
And that’s what she did. She started working as a deckhand for an adventure cruise company, shuttling guests to glaciers in Alaska or on excursions in Mexico and Costa Rica.
When she had time off, she attended courses and worked on her qualifications. During one of these periods, she went to the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) for training. At TEEX’s Galveston facility, Bohn took the Fast Rescue Boat course to be certified in case of emergency. Although she has not yet had to rescue anyone, the course helped her advance in her career and prepared her for drills, inspections and emergencies. Additionally, she says, “Taking the course helped my confidence as a sailor for sure, knowing that I know those search patterns.”
Bohn explains, “TEEX was great, and the instructors made it super fun. On the first day, we learned about the boat, theories, jumps, and search patterns in the classroom, and then we got to actually practice what we learned and perform rescue patterns on the fast rescue boat. Actually getting out there and doing it was really awesome and made it so realistic.”
After five years of learning the basics and taking courses, Bohn had the licenses she needed to start working on research vessels. She returned to the Kilo Moana and got the job she wanted.
On board the research vessel, she watched scientists take sediment samples from the ocean floor, 17,000 feet underwater, and she explains, “I just thought that was so cool, so I took my phone out and started filming, and I made a couple of videos.” She wasn’t sure if she was allowed to do this, but when the scientists saw the videos, they asked her to make more of them.
She started making outreach videos for scientists, and today, Bohn is a sailor, videographer and science communicator. Her engaging and fun videos make science inclusive and give a behind-the-scenes look at life as a sailor and in the STEM fields. Coming up, Bohn will join expeditions to the Mediterranean, Iceland and the Arctic Circle.
Bohn describes how important it is that her videos serve as a resource and inspiration to women and girls who want to get into the predominately-male careers of sailing or science. She says, “If I had seen someone like me doing this when I was little, my whole life probably would have been different. I want to inspire young children to follow their dreams no matter what they are.”
You can find her on TikTok @limitlesslarkin and on YouTube and Instagram @MySaltySeaLife.
Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service
Vita Vaughn | Director of Marketing and Communications/CMO