Captain Jennifer McQuilken had her sea legs before her land legs. She grew up sailing, fishing, and swimming in Long Island Sound wither her family and got her recreational boating license before even having a driver’s license. A walk along the beach, even in the dead of winter, was always full of wonder. She had no fear of picking up sea creatures and smelly things that washed up along the beach. She spent her summer teaching swimming lessons in Niantic Bay and volunteering at Mystic Aquarium.
The cold drove her south, where she went to school at Florida Tech, studying marine biology and earning a degree in communications. She jokes that after college she ended up in the Washington, D.C. area by mistake, but quickly hit her stride. She managed client relations for one of the top advertising agencies in the DC area and was the brand and marketing manager for McGruff the Crime Dog. Never one to give up the wind, she found the nearest ocean and traveled up and down the east coast on weekends racing Hobie Cats.
Missing living in a land of saltwater and afternoon sea breeze, she moved to Charleston in 2007. The alternating time between her communications consulting and working as a tour guide, she founded Charleston Coastal Charters. One of her boats, Horizon Seeker, was the first boat to be featured as a vacation rental on Airbnb. She sailed with friends, fished the creeks and reefs, and volunteered with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. She now has her near coastal operator of uninspected passenger vessels (OUPV) captain’s license and now splits her time between the boats and her marketing career.
Jen loves sharing the history and ecological wonders that make the Low-country the special place that it is. Whether it is chatting about the local dolphins, explain how a pelican catches its fish, or pointing out some of the world-class architecture, you are sure to enjoy your time on the boat with her.
When she is not on Mental Heeling, just follow the winds and tides and you’ll find her somewhere in the marshes of Charleston, often kayaking, paddle boarding, or fishing. Even with all she has on her plate, Jen still finds time to volunteer at Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge saving baby sea turtles.