When Mik Bijleveld was feeling stuck in her life and career, she turned to the sea where she found a new freedom and purpose.
Now, she’s helping female executives, creatives and entrepreneurs do the same, through luxury sailing retreats she says are designed to help participants break free from the past and focus on new projects and goals.
The former artist, photographer and printer said she had never sailed before she started having a recurring dream: She was standing at the bow of a boat, looking out at the blue water and blue sky.
“I actually had to Google to find out what kind of boat it was,” she said.
Bijleveld said she found the vision so compelling that she left her coaching and counselling practice in the Netherlands to train in Greece, earning competent-crew and day-skipper certifications in 2014. Since then, she has sailed extensively, including a five-month journey from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to Cape Town, South Africa, and earned her captain’s papers. She says the retreats combine her love of sailing and her coaching skills.
“It’s very hard to change something that seems to be going very well,” she said. “You don’t think you need to change it, but I wasn’t getting any happier. So, I was thinking, ‘What contribution can I make to the world that would also be a contribution to me?’”
Her answer: ‘water whispering’ – leading small groups on luxury sail excursions targeted at participants looking to get in touch with their authentic aspirations, quickly clarify new business and project concepts and ignite creative energies.
She arrived on Grand Cayman earlier this month to prepare for her next retreat, a 10-day sail from Tortola, British Virgin Islands, on the 52-foot catamaran WindBorn in May.
She said she hopes her excursions will encourage more women to expand their self-awareness and ambitions.
“Go beyond,” she said. “Always go beyond.”