Roaming the Seas with Rachel Rudwall
Rachel Rudwall is a modern day explorer who, on any given day, can be found diving the depths of the world’s oceans or scaling its renowned peaks. She is a traveler after our own hearts. Her adventures have spanned climbing the heights of the 5,895 meter (19,341 foot) Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, hiking the rugged Patagonian coast, diving the icy depths of Silfra fissure in Iceland, and surviving a charging hippo on the Zambezi River.
As a producer, Rachel has been a part of some of TVs highest-rated television shows, including “Ax Men,” “Ice Road Truckers,” “Alaska Wing Men,” “Deadliest Catch,” and many more. Today, when not SCUBA diving with bull sharks in the South Pacific or tracking grizzly bears on foot in British Columbia, she can be found as a host and expert for lifestyle and news programs such as ABC’s “FABLife” and HLN’s “The Daily Share,” as well as creating branded video content for clients like BMW, AIG, TripIt, Mashable and Cathay Pacific.
We are so excited to have Rachel as our first interview. She works tirelessly on her travels as a TV host, producer, EMMY-nominated camera operator and social media content creator, so we are honored to carve out a little time with her to discuss her SALTY adventures.
SALT – Tell us a little about yourself, and how you got into traveling the world.
Rachel – I’ve been fascinated by the world for as long as I knew it existed. I grew up in Ohio, which is a fairly isolated place when you’re thinking on a global scale. We didn’t grow up next to France, or share a border with Costa Rica or Belgium, and we certainly weren’t in the thick of international engagement. However, my parents are curious souls, so they always kept around books and magazines that spoke of the world.
When I went off to college at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, I knew that I wanted to put my scholarship and loan money to good use, so I got degrees in International Studies and Spanish, which allowed me to study overseas in Spain and the UK. From there, I landed an internship with STA Travel, which was—at the time—the world’s largest youth and student travel. STA Travel sent me on a round-the-world trip with a laptop and crappy camera, and said, “Get out there and inspire others to travel!” That gig was a dream job for a kid from Ohio, as it sent me to 15 countries over 3 months, during which I crafted video content, photography and blogs. After that job wrapped, I suddenly knew that storytelling was my path if I was brave enough to pursue it.
SALT – What has been one of your top coastal / ocean-centered locations you have traveled to so far?
Rachel – I love coastal Japan for its connection to the sea. It’s fascinating waking before dawn to see Tokyo’s Tsukiji tuna auction in action—all the fisherman yelling out bids as an auctioneer sing-songily sells the day’s best catch.
I also feel a deep connection to far-flung and rugged stretches of coastline in places like Scotland, Iceland, Alaska, and Chilean Patagonia. There’s something nostalgic and magical about the smell of salt air and the sound of gulls overhead.
SALT – As an open water certified SCUBA diver, how about a favorite diving location?
Rachel – I just went diving with bull sharks in Fiji, and it was hands-down the coolest dive experience I’ve had. I count myself fortunate to have been tunnel diving in the US Virgin Islands, drysuit diving between the North American and European continental plates in Iceland, and diving in cold, clear water off California’s Channel Islands; however, there’s nothing like diving cage-free at 100 feet in the South Pacific, surrounded by 40 massive bull sharks in their element. It’s absolutely humbling.
SALT – Where is the best place you have been to see the sun rise (or set) over the ocean?
Rachel – Thailand has insanely colorful sunsets over its Western Coast. I saw a few mind-bending color palettes in Khao Lak and Phuket. Sunset in Anguilla proves stunning because the sea lights up with bioluminescence as the sky changes shades from blue to black and starry. LA always knocks it out of the park, too. (Thanks, smog!)
SALT – We see that you always make a point of respecting and interacting with the local people, cultures and traditions you are visiting. What are some of your take-aways from this?
Rachel – I’m convinced that every one of us is exactly the same, regardless of how we dress, or what we eat, or whom we call God. We all need to eat, we strive for shelter, we hope for love, and we wish for a life well-lived. When we allow ourselves to connect beyond fear or ego, life proves more fulfilling.
SALT – What does it mean for you to be able to travel to and explore such amazing destinations?
Rachel – The world is a giant place. The more I see, the more I realize I haven’t seen anything—and that’s actually a cool feeling. The list of wonders and curiosities continues to grow, and I continue to marvel at all that’s out there. I think that travel makes you feel small, but in a good way—a tiny, essential part of all that exists. And, it’s brilliant being humbled by the scale of it all, by a planet that’s much larger than you are alone.
SALT – What is a top bucket-list “salty” destination that you haven’t been to yet?
Rachel – I really want to explore the coast of Southern Africa, from Namibia down to South Africa. I hear the vistas are breathtaking, the waves are perfect, and the sharks are magnificent (and terrifying).
SALT – As one of my personal bucket-list destinations, tell us about your work with the Alaskan crab boats.
Rachel – When I first dreamed about getting into TV, I remember picking up a magazine on a plane, reading about Thom Beers, the creator of Deadliest Catch, and going, “I have to work for that man.” A year later, after a lot of hustle, and a lot of LinkedIn sleuthing, I landed a job at Original Productions, the production company that created the show. After working with the then-VP for a year as a production coordinator for the company, I was fortunate enough to get called out to Dutch Harbor to help with the start of a new season of Deadliest Catch. I helped rig boats with cameras, suit producers with rain gear, and all kinds of unglamorous production tasks. I loved my time up there.
SALT – You asked the question on your Instagram feed over the winter, so now we’re asking you. If you could be any famous explorer, who would you be and why?
Rachel – This is going to sound like a bizarre answer, or maybe even a cop out, but: I would be myself. Why? Because I have no idea what I’m going to discover in this life. I know what past explorers have discovered—what rivers they’ve descended, and what poles they’ve traversed. I know what mountains other people have climbed, and what sunrises they’ve witnessed. While I know lots of facts about those other explorers, I have no idea how my own path will shape up during the rest of my life. Will I climb more mountains? Navigate deltas? Sail seas I’ve never touched? The not knowing is what makes it all worth exploring.