By Leading Seaman Darcy Boucher

Coming from a long lineage of army and air force family members, I made a bold and rebellious move in joining the Royal Canadian Navy. I chose the trade of Resource Management Support Clerk in hopes of flexible work opportunities and transferable skills, while mentally resigning my love of travel and the ocean, acknowledging the fact that there isn’t much opportunity for my chosen trade to sail on our Reserve Force maritime coastal defence vessels…or so I thought.

After eight years in the Canadian Armed Forces, thanks to collaborative efforts between Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Ottawa and our land-locked reserve unit, HMCS Carleton, this citizen sailor (as well as five others) had the opportunity to experience life at sea for the first time. I had never been so excited, eager and terrified.

What do I pack? What am I going to be doing?  How am I going to live without cell phone service for an entire week? (A very real concern for those of us with full-time civilian job commitments.) Am I going to get seasick? These, and a million other questions, were running through my head from the moment I started the long journey from our nation’s capital to the West Coast, to the second I stepped foot aboard HMCS Ottawa for the first time in Vancouver at about 1 a.m. Monday morning (4 a.m. Ottawa time). Taking vacation time from work, spending our weekends jet-lagged due to travelling from coast to coast for a week of training, and leading a…

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