ADVENTURER RACHEL MOORE
ON THE MORNING OF A SUPERMOON, Rachel Moore and her husband Josh Shankle prepared to leave dock on their sailboat, Agape. Five years of mental and physical preparation finally brought them to the realization of their dream - embarking on a 5 year journey to sail around the world.
It was an emotional day. Leaving their family and friends behind in Ventura, CA was heartaching. The moon created an uncooperative tide that day. All the goodbyes had been said and the boat was turned on, but Agape was stuck sitting in thick mud from the low tide. It was a half hour of patience before they were able to take off into the Pacific.
“Josh and I are terrible at making plans. We knew we were going to leave and travel around the world for about five years. We knew were going to stop in Mexico first. But aside from that, we really hadn’t mapped out much of the trip. We try to have as few expectations and plans as possible and allow life to give us some guidance...that to me is freedom.”
Rachel’s draw to the ocean began early in her years. At 8 years old, a documentary of the famed sea explorer Jacque Cousteau captivated her attention. It was in that moment that she decided she wanted to become a diver.
She patiently awaited turning 14 years old, the youngest age eligible for a scuba diving certificate. Her certification was completed with her father, the person that kindled her love for the ocean as an avid surfer himself. The ocean won Rachel’s heart in a new way that day.
In college, she studied aquatic biology. Upon graduation, she got hired by the Channel Islands National Park Service and worked with them for three years. She began her first season in their underwater research program and moved into the underwater video program. This position gave her the ability to dive every week 4-5 days a week with at least 250 dives every season. With this, came the experience of learning the intricacies of animal life underwater. Understanding when they were comfortable and when they weren’t became an important skill. Part of this position involved having to catch various types of sea life. There is a short list of people that can say they’re REALLY good at catching lobster and Rachel is one of them. Despite all her newly added underwater skills, what was to come next for Rachel required a skill she didn’t have -- walking in heels.
“Scuba diving was a fun job but it ended when the stipend for my position got cut when the park budgets crashed. The position became a volunteer position and I had to find other means for income.”
Rachel’s other passion is rock climbing. One of her rock climbing friends was also a professional model and he soon opened the door to her next career path. A modeling agent asked Rachel if was interested in modeling. Her initial reply was, “No, I have my dream job scuba diving everyday.” But with the budgets that came a month later, Rachel signed a contract and gave them 6 months.
Getting adorned, well paid, and traveling all over the world were nice perks of the industry. For a moment, Rachel felt herself slipping into the superficial nature of it and lose touch with the things that made her feel alive. Rock climbing and spending time in the ocean were scarcely finding their way into her busy schedule.
Creating a balance between her two worlds became a priority. When Rachel was in high school, she lost some close friends. It gave her a startling realization of the fragility of life. Being present to the moment, doing things she loved, and living with authenticity became important to her early on.
“The truth is, I don’t look that way in real life.”
“I have a younger sister and I know there are other women that look up to me. When I’m modeling, a professional spends 2 hours making me look beautiful. The truth is, I don’t look that way in real life. I didn’t want to inspire women to fit a certain mold that isn’t real.”
Her social media got stormed with companies wanting to give her product to promote. It always came down to integrity with Rachel. If she wasn’t aligned with the product or messaging, then influencing others to purchase a product wasn’t in her interest, despite profitability.
“I want to inspire women to pursue whatever it is that makes them feel alive. Pick something that’s not too far outside of your comfort zone and do it with someone you trust and support you in conquering your fears. You can take small steps everyday and you don’t have to do it all in a day.”
Rachel was in the middle of her modeling career when their boat, Agape, was purchased. The name was chosen by Josh years before. Agape is an Ancient Greek term that means unconditional love. A very appropriate name for the mission it was destined to embark on.
Being of service to others has held huge importance in Rachel’s life. At the core of her heart, she knew she needed more out of their sailing adventure than travel alone. Volunteering with orphanages and organizations along the way became an ongoing conversation between her and Josh. They both knew they wanted to document their trip by video and Voyages of Agape was soon born.
Initially, the video was also going to double as exposure to get donations that could continue to fund their trip through the website Patreon. Getting their trip funded by donors didn’t sit well with Rachel. Having others pay for her dream life didn’t feel in alignment to her values. She asked for guidance on what to do and shortly after, a dream guided her to the answer - to give 100% of donations to their philanthropic efforts. Agape was living up to its name.
“Josh and I lived on the boat for two years before leaving because going from a house to a boat seemed really scary. It helped me feel more comfortable on the boat.”
The inspiration, growth, and gifts that this journey has brought them outweigh any challenges they’ve encountered. With their scuba and rock climbing gear onboard with them, they get to view the world from perspectives that most will never see. Their 8 years as a couple has grown tighter than ever before.
“When things come up, instead of ignoring them, we’ve learned to talk about them. On the boat he’s my everything. My partner, my best friend, my family. It puts a lot more pressure on one another to BE all those things.”
“I have to learn how to be a better friend, a better “community”, a better wife. We’re constantly having to learn and grow and change.”
Of the many joys they share, volunteering and serving others is at the top of their list. Organizations like Amigos Por Christo and other volunteer organizations are vital to the survival of people living in some of the worlds most impoverished areas. Building schools and clean water systems, giving attention and time to orphans, or simply interacting with the local community are often what fills their time when their docked.
“We met the most amazing human beings who left their lives to move to a very poor area in Nicaragua to help with water systems. They drilled the well and put full water systems into houses so that the people didn’t have to walk long distances to carry water. It’s hard work. I couldn’t believe they left their lives in America to do this full time. I was in tears and grieving when I left their home that they had invited us to. I was so inspired by them.”
Travel exposed Rachel to lifestyles and beauty that have fallen short in westernized nations. Around the world, especially in impoverished areas, community is a focal point of life. Families care for each other, help raise children together, and support each other for basic survival needs. Though their lives are simple, they are still filled with happiness and exquisite beauty.
“The women in Nicaragua are truly some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen and they live in some of these villages with mud floors, corrugated walls with palm tree leaves and tarp. They come out in the morning looking so beautiful. There’s no makeup on, they’re strong and beautiful.”
Rachel’s experiences and choice of lifestyle paves an inspirational road for others. Her levels of integrity, selflessness, courage, and determination permeate throughout her life decisions. Each adventure and act of service fulfill her heart’s true calling of giving and exploring. Her unwavering faith for trusting in the unknown has guided her to living with freedom and purpose. As a result, she’s become a better person, a better wife, and is continually creating a better world. With every country and community that Agape touches on, Rachel ensures that it’s left changed for the better -- all with simple acts of love and kindness.
BY MANDY BUDARE