This nautical way of life is a “sea change” for Christie, an award-winning horsewoman and United States Dressage Federation Gold Medalist, who owned a stable in New Jersey where she trained other riders in the fine art of Dressage. Back then, her life was largely “landlocked”, although she says, “My husband and I kept a boat on the Jersey Shore since 1988.”
In 2011, they sold the stable, moved aboard their trawler and headed south. “I got tired of the New Jersey winters,” Capt. Christie explains. She earned her U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s license so she could operate the boat safely and knowledgeably during their first long voyage to Florida. Her husband, Jimmy, also is a Captain.
After cruising up and down the ICW, the Stillwaughs decided to make Earleville their homeport. There, they met Capt. Gary O’Reilly, owner of Sea Tow Northern Chesapeake, and Capt. Christie went to work for him, quickly earning a Towing Endorsement on her Captain’s license.
Not long after joining Sea Tow, Capt. Christie literally had a “baptism by fire” when a sailboat exploded on Memorial Day on the local Bohemia River. The sailboat’s owner grabbed his 3 ½-year old son, Tristan, and jumped into the water, where thankfully, they were rescued by a joint effort that included Sea Tow. Thankfully, Tristan was wearing a life jacket recently borrowed from the Sea Tow Foundation.
“It was kind of a rude introduction to what can happen on the water,” she says.
Today, Capt. Christie performs a variety of different functions for Sea Tow Northern Chesapeake, including filling in for Capt. Gary, working as a dispatcher, handling sales & marketing for the location. She also patrols the local waters in the Rita V, a 26-foot Aquasport, providing a variety of services including fuel drops, ungroundings and tows.
“I have met a lot of nice people on the water, and I enjoy helping them,” says Capt. Christie.