N.B. woman hopes to sail onto TV screens with new reality series
Sail Away follows Danica Smith's adventures restoring a sailboat in U.S. Virgin Islands
A New Brunswick woman may have scored her own reality TV show based in the Caribbean after catching the interest of a Hollywood writer and producer.
Think HGTV, but with wind and water.
Native to French Lake, 30 kilometres south of Fredericton, Danica Smith, 24, and her boyfriend Marcus Sweeney have finished filming the pilot for reality TV series Sail Away, showcasing their life in St. Thomas as they repair a broken-down sailboat.
Sweeney, 26, is from St. Lucia and is an experienced sailor. In April of last year the couple decided to put his skills to the test and buy a craft that had been severely damaged by two hurricanes in 2017.
According to their vlog, the couple travelled to St. Thomas to claim their sailboat in 2021, but they soon discovered it was in complete disarray.
From a flooded interior to a non-functional engine, the boat required a lot of work and is still being repaired and remodelled.
Smith works a waitress job to make ends meet and focuses on cosmetic repairs to the boat and documenting their experience on YouTube, while Sweeney works full-time to get the boat functioning.
The couple met Joel Silverman two months ago when he was in need of a skilled sailor to help him move his boat, and Sweeney was recommended for the job.
"They spent the day sailing together on his boat and just talked about life and Marcus brought up our YouTube channel," Smith told Information Morning Saint John.
Smith said Silverman was intrigued by their story and watched the couple's online vlog, Sailing Scallywag, which sparked his interest further.
After a couple of days, he pitched them the idea of a reality TV series documenting their efforts to restore their boat.
"I didn't believe it at first. I looked at Marcus and said, 'I think this guy is full of it,'" said Smith.
She would soon realize how serious Silverman was about the project when he flew her mother, Kimberley Smith, to the island for filming.
Silverman has written screenplays for all major studios, including Universal, Disney, Sony and Paramount. He was nominated by the Writers Guild of America for Best Screenplay for the Disney channel movie Full Court Miracle in 2003.
In a statement to CBC News, Silverman confirmed the show is currently in post-production.
"We shot the pilot over nine days in March on St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., where the journey begins," Silverman said in an emailed statement.
"This is a reality show, and Danica was disarmingly authentic. We all believe she will soar in this series, that a worldwide audience will love her, cheer for her, hope she learns to sail and overcome her fear of fish bigger than Nemo."
Silverman said Smith's mother also helped bring the show to life and will make an appearance.
"We expect her mother Kim to be a sensation in her own right … Kim loves Danica as hard as she works her. This mom is a force of nature as in hurricane," he said.
The pilot is being edited by Teki Cruickshank, most known for her work editing reality shows, including The Bachelor, Jersey Shore and The Voice.
Once the pilot is complete, the show will be pitched to production studios in California. If the show is bought by a studio, it will go into full production and Smith and Marcus will be filming full time.
Smith said that even if the show doesn't sell, the experience filming the pilot was rewarding enough.
"It was the craziest experience of my life."