Growing up in California beach communities, both Dan and Kathy have always loved the ocean and the beach. Sailing for Dan was an early passion, and in college, he introduced Kathy to sailing. Taking advantage of an opportunity in the mid-’90’s, Dan spent nearly a month working on Hellenic Ministries’ vessel Morning Star. This missions experience with Hellenic Ministries, along with short term trips with Greater Europe Mission, Euro-Relief and others, set Dan and Kathy on a trek to find their place in missions. In 2010, Dan and Kathy were working and living on the campus of Mid-Atlantic Christian University in the coastal community of Elizabeth City, NC, where they were restoring a well worn 1969 Columbia 21 sailboat. They were introduced to Maritime Ministries through Roy Armstrong and Rick and Sandy Redd, and an immediate deep bond developed. Dan and Kathy became ardent supporters and participants in the ministry, and a year later were invited to join Maritime Ministries as stewards of the ministry’s Colin Archer-designed 32’ wooden cutter, Paloma.
In 2014, a partnership was formed between Mid-Atlantic Christian University and Maritime Ministries: Maritime Ministries gained an operating base, and MACU gained a missions organization operating from its campus. Elizabeth City is well known as the “Harbor of Hospitality,” strategically located on the Dismal Swamp Canal section of the Intra Coastal Waterway. Each spring and fall, hundreds of boaters transit this section of the waterway, stopping in Elizabeth City where Dan and Kathy, supported by Paloma, and Maritime’s flagship vessel, Selah, meet cruisers’ needs with simple things like free dockage at the campus docks, a trip to the grocery store, marine hardware or laundromat and oftentimes a warm shower. Dan and Kathy travel regularly on Maritime Ministries’ boats to local ports and river-front communities in the coastal waters of NC and VA, building friendships, serving people, and sharing Christ. The Smiths also serve local churches and MACU by facilitating mission trips and discipleship sails aboard Selah and other Maritime Ministries vessels.