At the Helm of a Successful Life: An interview with Captain Sandy Yawn

At the Helm of a Successful Life: An interview with Captain Sandy Yawn

Many of you know that I was on Bravo’s popular reality TV show Below Deck Mediterranean. Since then I’ve kept in touch with some of the crew which you can read about here. When I learned that this season’s show was casting a new captain of the cruise ship — a woman — I jumped on the chance to chat with her for my Little White Lie community! The Little White Lie Movement is all about embracing life at any age. This means living a full, authentic life on your own terms, blazing your own trail. Well, I know you’ll agree that Sandy Yawn, Below Deck Med’s new captain, is a shining example of someone who is doing just that. You’re in for a treat!

Sandy YawnWith over 27 years of leading yacht charters all over the world, Captain Sandy Yawn is one of a handful of female captains in the yachting industry. She has weathered it all, from being chased down by pirates to containing major fires on board. She’s survived a life-threatening motorcyle accident, and even cancer. Her undeniable resilience and brilliance have helped move her to the top of the industry. Yet I think you’ll find her also to be a humble, thoughtful, visionary person who is passionate about giving back and having fun!

Where did it all start, and what was the journey like going through the ranks to become a ship captain?

A Florida native, Sandy always loved playing in and on the water, including tubing on a huge truck tire tube! Her family loves fishing. “So I guess it’s safe to say…It’s in my blood!” From a part-time job washing boats at 13, Sandy went through the ranks and training to become a yacht captain in an industry dominated by males. Along the way she had her moments of that “normal human experience” of questioning: Can I do this? Will people take me seriously? Will I be able to manage it all? Sandy says: “When I had thoughts like that pop into my mind, I would put my headphones on and tune into a badass song! That’s all it took for me — Music adds fire to my soul!” What a great tip!

Sandy sees her unusual and visible position as a woman in a ‘man’s world’ as an opportunity to be her best self and to inspire others.

For her it’s not about gender, it’s about humility. “Women can do anything they put their mind to, which means if they need to ask for help from a male colleague, then do so.” There’s no place in her life for folding under preconceived ideas of what a woman can or cannot do! I’m sure this is a another big reason why Captain Sandy Yawn has reached the top of her industry and is so highly respected by her peers.

A big believer in mentoring, Sandy appreciates her own mentor, John Flynn, for teaching her about the business aspects of the Maritime Industry — and to “always have a fun factor.” He is an inspiration for her to be the same kind of mentor for others. “It’s now my time to inspire other young ladies to jump in and say YES to taking a risk. It’s so worth it! If you fall short don’t give up, just pick yourself up, brush yourself off and go for it again.”

How did the Below Deck Mediterranean’ opportunity come about?

“A friend suggested it and I thought, why not?” Sandy had been going through a difficult period of having to let go of a dream business venture, so this seemed like an opportunity to follow her own advice and “pick herself up, brush herself off,” and try something new. She says it’s been a lot of fun so far. And, for Captain Sandy, “it’s about growing a different kind of brand, one that is about me and what I stand for. I want to help other women make their way to the bridge or other careers in the Maritime Industry.”

What’s in her future – dreams and goals? What ‘floats her boat?’ (yes, I asked her that – corny, right?)

Sandy would love to come back on another season of Below Deck Med, “because I love having the opportunity to reach and inspire the masses.” And what a great way to have fun while doing what she does best — something I’d say we all aspire to, right?

Sandy also serves on the advisory council for, because she’s passionate about helping to take care of the one thing that has allowed her to enjoy her career as a yacht captain – our oceans and seas! “Let’s be mindful of what we do to our reefs, overfishing and … I could go on and on with this one!”
Her dream? To help her sister (Michelle Dunham) build a new campus for her nonprofit k-12 school, Jacksonville School for Autism. Sandy got Inspired watching her sister leave her corporate career to found a school for her son who’d been diagnosed with Autism. Starting with ‘2 students, 1 teacher and a lot of faith,’ the school has outgrown their current space, and Sandy is active raising funds for a new 22,000-sq.-ft. facility.

“What floats my boat is MUSIC, and enjoying family and friends!” enthuses Sandy. Sounds like a recipe for a great life to me!

Sandy, what would you like to share with our readers about showing up fully as a woman and a leader?

Sandy has some wonderful advice for us…

  • I would start with asking, ‘what are you passionate about?’
  • Once you figure that part out, just take it one day at a time. Set the goal and build a small business plan-of-action for your own path to take.
  • When you find pushback, don’t push back or muscle up; just find a way to navigate through it.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded people — Join (or start yourself) a group of women who can help propel you to your ultimate goal.
  • Most importantly, give back to the communities or families that are in need. It’s not always about money. Most often it’s about one’s time.

Listen up, Little White Liars! This is great advice from a woman who definitely walks her talk.

And I know you won’t want to miss Captain Sandy Yawn on “Below Deck Mediterranean” which premieres Tuesday, May 2nd, at 9PM ET on Bravo. Check it out.

Thank you so much, Captain Sandy Yawn, for sharing yourself so thoughtfully and generously with us – wishing you every success!
So ….Little White Liars, are you inspired? How? Share with us what floats YOUR boat, and how you plan to take that passion to the next level in your life? Get into the conversation and take part in the direction of TLWL Movement! Here’s how:
1) Answer this question, or add your thoughts, in the comments below.
2) Take my survey now on where you see the question: “What is your biggest concern about aging?”
3) Share your comments on Facebook and use the hashtag #LittleWhiteLie.

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Caren Glasser

Leave a Reply 13 comments

Bettyanne Green Reply

I so respect this woman – it was inspiring to read about Sandy Yawn who, like all of us, has her LWL yet keeps that positive, ‘pick herself up’ attitude and as a result creates great things! Thanks for the article, Caren Glasser!

Caren Glasser Reply

Thanks, Bettyanne! Sandy is truly an inspiring woman and it was great having the opportunity to learn more about her.

Elana & Mark Cothern Reply

Sandy has always been a strong person !! Her brother has told me many stories about their life growing up. They lived in the water as much as possible, fishing, skiing, tubing and spending time together as a family. Not too surprised at her choice in a career. Like she said it’s in their blood

She is inspiring and proof that you can achieve what you want, you just have to put your mind to it. Forge through what ever life might throw at you, make your dreams happen.

Mark & Elana Cothern
Keep doing what you do

    Caren Glasser Reply

    Thank you Mark and Elana for your comments! Sandy is a very inspiring woman and one that I look up to!

Lisa Reply

I like your stillness your calmness. I can see that even through a reality television show..

    Caren Glasser Reply

    Thank you, Lisa! Sandy is a the kind of leader every organization wants and needs!

Marie Reply

She is just an inspiration …i love watching her take the helm..strong lady with strong beliefs for the good…

    Caren Glasser Reply

    Hi Marie
    I so agree! A great role model for sure 🙂

Lori A Lucas Reply

Very inspiring….Thank you.

    Caren Glasser Reply

    Thank you, Lori! I agree Captain Sandy is an inspiring woman!

Bethany Rose Reply

As a woman in her mid 60’s I have so much passion for people and giving. Sandy has encompassed all that I would have hoped to have been. I see that it is not impossible and at my age my dreams can still come true…never give up…always be humble. I have so much respect for Captain Sandy. Thank you for sharing your life.

Captain Rick Reply


I have followed Captain Sandy since the show began. She is a first class woman, very attractive, self humbling and has a heart of gold. She has overcome challenges that most would classify as game changers and reasons to change course and miss their destination. Captain Sandy reminds me of a quote by Louisa May Alcott – I am not afraid of the storms, for I am learning to sail my ship!

I have a female mate on the sportfishing boat I captain and she is sharp and on station all the time. I have often told her I would help her obtain her USCG license. She always tends to give me that yeah, ok, whatever look. I told her about Below Deck – Mediterranean and that is all it took…. she is enrolled in a maritime school and is well on her way to obtaining her license.

Captain Sandy is positively paving a clear path for women to join a male dominated profession that she has more than proven women can perform just as well as men.

BTW – I am only a licensed 200 ton Master and she has inspired me to begin upgrading my credentials.


Captain Rick
Charleston, SC

Addison Reply

I’ve got to say when it comes to Sandy, she never holds backs. She deserves respect, totally, 100%. I love her style of teaching and her temper. She comes across as someone slow to anger but when she hits that mark it’s for a good reason, someone dropped the ball ( cough, cough, Hannah ). I love how she praises for a job well done and offers advice for when your off your game just alittle. What I don’t like or I should say who, is Hannah. I don’t like how she’s taken advantage of Sandy and the other girls. I don’t blame Sandy for blowing her top over the fireworks on board. Sandy lived through one fire nightmare, she sure as heck didn’t need a repeat And, what I like to call Coke Gate, Hannah should count herself lucky that Sandy didn’t fire her over that one and again, I don’t blame Sandy for blowing her top over that one either. I wish there was more women in yachting that had Sandy’s style of operating and running her crew the way she does.

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