Love Floats: We Met on a Boat in the Pacific Ocean

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Vincent and Ashley found love on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. (Photo: Ashley Johnson)

Who: Vincent Oletu and Ashley Johnson 

Where we met: On a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean

When: 2010

Relationship status: Married on October 4th, 2014

(As told by Ashely Johnson)

I was a geology masters student concentrating on Igneous Petrology when I was invited to help my professor collect rock samples from the ocean floor for my masters thesis. The trip on the Kilo Moana research vessel would span 15 days across the Pacific Ocean, and by the time it was over, I would be in love. 

Vince was returning to the Australia-Pacific region to recover ocean bottom seismometers he helped deploy a year earlier. I originally thought that Vince was a member of the crew, so the first thing I said to hime was “Can you help me find my room?”

Even though he wasn’t on the crew, he had been on the ship before and was able to guide me to my room. After that, I didn’t see him very much. His job was 24/7 so we didn’t get to talk until a few days later. 


The Kilo Moana docked in Hawaii. (Photo: Ashley Johnson)

Near the end of the trip I was doing laundry on the ship when I realized that I had forgotten to take one of my pens out of a pocket. The entire dryer was covered in black ink and a lot of my clothes were ruined. 

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Afterwards, I went to the research computer lab. Vince was the only person in the room and I told him about my laundry debacle.  We had a good laugh and I remember him saying, “Which dryer was it again? I need to do laundry too and don’t want to mess up my clothes!” From that point on, we were inseparable.

I worked around the clock the last four days of the trip collecting, documenting, and packing up the dredge samples of volcanic glass. But the free time I did have was spent with Vince.  We ate meals together, watched the ocean together, and even enjoyed our first movie together onboard, Love Actually.


Hanging out on dry land in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo: Ashley Johnson)  

I had planned on spending four days in Auckland, New Zealand immediately after the cruise. I wanted to get to know Vince better so I went out on a limb and invited him to come with me. Luckily, he said yes even though he had planned on staying in Tonga after the trip. The last night before pulling into port in Tonga, we shared our first kiss under the Southern Cross. Very romantic!!

Our first real date was a pizza place in Auckland. He asked me to be his girlfriend the next afternoon. Our connection was so strong, but unfortunately we lived in different places. So after four days in New Zealand, he went back to New Jersey, and I headed back to Oklahoma.

Related: She Found Love While Hiking Mount Everest

A few weeks later, Vince came to visit me after Christmas. My parents were concerned that I met a guy half way around the world, but after meeting him in person, they were relieved. 


Vincent and Ashley on their wedding day. (Photo: Ashley Johnson)

It wasn’t always easy, but we dated long distance for three years. In 2012, I was transferred to Denver, Colorado and Vince decided to move to Denver with me to start our life together. Finally in the same place, he proposed to me in the car on our way home after dinner on November 8, 2013. I said yes, of course.

We were married in my hometown of Tulsa at the Gilcrease Museum. We celebrated with our friends and family before heading to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for a few days of relaxation. 

When I look back at how we met, I always smile. But I smile even bigger when I think about what the future holds. 

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