Hello, my name is Coronado.

When I introduce my name, I normally hear a multitude of questions, such as, “Wow, that is so unique. Where did it come from?” “What nationality is that?” And, “Okay, but what is your first name?”

Typically, most people think that I’m either from Coronado Island off the coast of California or I was named after the 16th-century Spanish explorer, Fransisco de Coronado.

However, my response is always this, “My mom was the captain of a vessel named the Coronado when she was pregnant with me, and my dad sailed on the Coronado 11 years prior as chief engineer.” Most people are then pretty much speechless.

It is hard to not be destined for a career as a merchant mariner when you were literally grown in the womb of your mom upon the high seas. I guess I can thank my mom for acclimating me to the seas before I could even take my first breath of air on my own, because thankfully I have never once been seasick.

Sailing has always been a prevalent aspect of my life. My grandfather retired from a career in the US Coast Guard, I grew up seeing all of his nautical tattoos and plaques around the house, and both of my parents were/are merchant mariners. I spent my childhood around ships, even boarding the Coronado on my first birthday.

I live in Houston, Texas, and the Houston Ship Channel is very near and dear to my heart. As a maritime pilot, my mom maneuvers vessels in and out of the channel and a lot of my friends work on harbor tugs and pilot boats.

When you grow up in a family that is in the “industry” most of your parents’ friends are also in the industry. From my earliest memories, I remember going to events with my mom and dad, whether it was Women in Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) meetings, port functions, or Maine Maritime Academy alumni events; my first flight when I was four was even to the American Pilots Association conference in Hawaii.

I realize that the maritime industry is a pretty small world, but to me growing up, it was my only world. Seeing my mom’s classmates from Maine Maritime  still supporting each other and showing up to events some 30 years later was one of the reasons I attended the Academy; I wanted my own group of shipmates to have for life.

Now being out in the industry for several years, I found out just how small the maritime industry really is. There have been countless times when a pilot boarded my vessel and soon started making small talk. Not surprisingly, conversations normally start with, “how did you get your name?” However, they are then followed by, “you’re Sherri Hickman’s daughter?!?”

They then proceed to tell me stories about her on the Coronado. I used to try to hide from it, I did not want any special treatment or them to think differently of me. However now I cherish the stories people remember from when my mom was sailing as captain to now boarding vessels that her daughter is sailing on; it is all very special to me.

To be completely honest, a few years ago I was intimidated by my mom because of who she is and not knowing if I would be able to fill her high stiletto heels. But now, I take it all as a sense of pride. My mom paved a foundation for the women sailing today, and I can only hope to use the connections and values she has instilled in me to take and build monuments on top of that foundation.  I am proud to be Sherri Hickman’s daughter, I hold her name with honor and that will never change, and I am very grateful to have grown up in a maritime family. I look forward to seeing what I can improve for my future family of little mariners.

Two years ago, Coronado and her mother were featured on Women Offshore when they sailed a 700-foot articulated tug barge away from a pier and through the Houston Ship Channel. Read more…