Diabetes on a Boat! Navigating the turbulent waters between employment and standing for your rights as a person with diabetes

I work on yachts. Yachts? Yes, Yachts. There are perks to the job like travel and meeting people from all facets of the world, but there’s also sacrifice that comes with the territory.


The sacrifice in the yachting world has its own language, its special dialect that is not clear to the untrained eye. There are boundaries, laws, regulations, unspoken rules that one must always be aware of at all times. Even when you might be out for a casual drink with fellow crew members you have to be aware of what you’re doing because you never know who is “watching”. For every “yachtie” it’s important to always know how you are presenting yourself: are you wearing something too revealing? Too conservative? Are you associating with the right people? Are you putting yourself out there enough? Too much? As you can see, it’s a fine balancing act between the line of revealing too much or too little.

So where does diabetes fit in? For me this was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. When a yacht is looking to hire a new crew member they could be under a number of pressures or conditions. In other words, there might be a certain box that they are trying to fill and if you don’t fit that box there are 27 other girls behind you that very well could. I was diagnosed with type one diabetes when I was 13 years old and since then have promised myself that nothing in this world would hold me back from what I wanted to do or accomplish. Coming into yachting I knew that I would encounter some hiccups, but I was ready to face those challenges. This, as you might have guessed, is one thing that some boats might see as extraneous unwanted baggage. Thus the balancing act of my journey so far is the thin line of revealing my diagnosis compared to my strong diabetes identity. I have had diabetes long enough that I have become comfortable with myself and my D-identity, but to be honest coming into yachting was a whole new challenge.


(Click the picture for Diabetes Forecast article on nautical diabadarse Tim Duffy)

Having come across different reactions and situations when it comes to my diabetes in the yachting world, I have learned that what it comes down to is me being my true self. I don’t mean in terms of my diabetes management, that’s a given. What I mean is that in this world and especially in this industry, you have to know your rights and personal morals and diabetes presents intriguing obstacles, but obstacles that can be overcome.

Anything is possible. It truly is and there is always a way to accomplish what you want, you just have to be willing to put in the work. But what I have learned is that if it’s truly something that you want, then the work isn’t really work…it’s what you love to do.




Megan Ruyun


DASH Volunteer since 2014


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