© Cynthia Matzke

Following her credo, “Work like a captain, wear your hair like a mermaid, keep your soul like a gypsy, and live like a pirate,” Breezy Grenier is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, 100-ton Master captain, snowboarding instructor, scuba instructor, scientific and technical diver, and marine science educator. And probably the only Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society [FRGS] and member of The Explorers Club who’s snorkeled the Northwest Passage and worn a bikini at the North Pole.

“I always knew I was destined for life on the water,” says Breezy. “Growing up in Connecticut, with three ponds on our property, I was always catching frogs and fish, swimming, rowing, and ice-skating. I was curious about everything to do with the water, and as I grew my ponds continued to grow. In high school I was part of Project CLEAR, an educational program that included conducting field research on Candlewood Lake. Learning about how much we didn’t know about the lake, and seeing pollution firsthand, further triggered my curiosity in the fields of science and exploration.”

“After high school, I enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. My first duty station was on the USCGC Hickory, a buoy tender in Homer, Alaska. My first time above the Arctic Circle, I was in awe of the beauty and inspired by how the communities rely not only on themselves but an environment that’s been labeled harsh by others. During my time underway, in some of the most remote places on the planet, I quickly realized the vast problem of marine debris and abandoned infrastructure our polar region is facing.”

A former dockmaster at Ballard’s Marina on Block Island, Breezy earned degrees in Geology and Geological Oceanography (with minors in Marine Biology and Underwater Archaeology) from the University of Rhode Island, but found herself ‘overqualified.’ “As a business entrepreneur, I learned that by serving as a contractor I’d have a flexible schedule to help take care of my parents. [Breezy’s mother suffers from severe dementia brought on by Lyme disease and her father was recently diagnosed with multiple stage four cancers.] “My contracts have brought me around the world, from the North Pole to Antarctica. Coining the title Ocean M.E.S.E (Marine, Educator, Scientist, Explorer), I take jobs as captain, marine science technician, educator, or scientist.”

Breezy’s worked on a variety of motor and sailing vessels. “In my spare time, I deliver lectures and workshops on polar and deep-sea science and exploration to schools and social groups around the East Coast. Right now, I’m a training captain (instructor) at In-Command Seamanship Training Center in Wickford, Rhode Island, and I’m working on the Baltic 55 Fearless, doing restoration work and preparing her for the Transatlantic and Fastnet races, before heading back to the High Arctic this August with One Ocean Expeditions.”

“Last year, I joined the Sedna Epic Expedition as an ocean scientist and educator, on their third preliminary expedition to the Canadian and Greenlandic High Arctic. Sedna Epic’s goal is to complete a world record-breaking 3,000-kilometer snorkel relay of the Northwest Passage to raise global awareness of climate change. In addition to the challenges of snorkeling through frigid waters, each expedition builds local community support by developing Inuit and Inuvialuit leaders to tackle societal and climate change; creating a space for young women and girls to excel in the sciences, arts and exploration; and combining aboriginal and scientific knowledge to mitigate global warming. If you want to get involved, we’re looking for an ice-rated diving support vessel!”

Breezy has signed on with eXXpedition Round the World, an all-female sailing voyage and scientific research mission to explore plastics and toxins in our oceans. “RTW begins this October,” she says, “and will cover 38,000 miles, broken into 30 legs, over the next two years. I’m joining the first leg, from the United Kingdom to the Azores. I’m excited to help raise awareness and contribute to collecting valuable data. Life at sea is always unpredictable, but I always know I’ll see plastic debris…and hopefully we can inspire change. If you’d like to contribute, you can at gofundme.com/BreezySeasRTW.”

A sometime resident of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Breezy’s launched two exciting projects. “Having been an instructor for 16 years, teaching snowboarding and scuba diving, and presenting lectures and workshops, I’ve seen a growing inability in children’s critical thinking skills and mobile dexterity, and a loss of interest in the outdoors. I created Scientists are Superheroes Too, a student resource to help change the scientist stereotype, inspire kids to go outside, explore and play sports, engage and empower them to climate actions, and promote healthy and environmentally sustainable lifestyles.”

“During my lectures with elders, I’ve noticed a disconnect between senior citizens and youth. I have many elderly friends with a wealth of knowledge, skills, and appreciation for quality over quantity. I wanted to help them share their experience, so I developed Eco-Elders, which promotes connecting generations by creating a knowledge exchange aimed at ‘reducing and reusing’ to combat our ocean plastics problem. Please follow along on Facebook, @scientistsaresuperheroes and @ecoelders, and my website, BreezySeas.com.”

“Every time I’m on the water I experience something new. Nothing’s better than sunrises and sunsets painting the sky, and nights where you can’t tell the difference between the starry sky and glistening water. And going beneath the sea is entering a whole new world. Ninety-five percent of the ocean is unexplored…that figure just blows my mind!” ■