Mary Morano prefers to see life from a sailor’s-eye view. She’s been sailing since age seven, when she got her start at the Edgartown Yacht Club.

Now she’s a senior at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, where she’s served as the captain of the sailing team for two years running. “It’s just very interesting, all the changes that the world goes through on a day-to-day basis that no one sees,” she said. “One minute the seas are calm and there’s no wind, and the next second you’re preparing for a storm.”

As a sophomore, however, Mary experienced something that no one could have prepared for. Her coach Andrew Burr described it as “the biggest incident I’ve ever had on the water.” During a race on April 11, 2015, Mary was hit by the top of a capsizing boat’s mast and ejected from her own vessel into Buzzard’s Bay.

“When I saw her fly out of the boat . . . I thought she was dead,” he recounted.

Mary was face down and unconscious in the water. Her teammate Russell Shapiro picked her up out of the 40-degree water and brought her onto a Boston Whaler with Coach Burr. She was rushed from Sippican Harbor in Marion to a hospital in Providence. She had a bad concussion, which has had lasting effects on her memory, making it hard to recall much of her freshman year.

Discussing it now, she seems nonchalant: “My teeth were cut up, but other than that I was fine.” But when she woke up in the hospital, she thought, “I’m done with sailing. I don’t want something like this to ever happen again.”

That didn’t last. Within a week, she was visiting with the team and planning her return. “I could never give up sailing, ever,” she said.

Coach Burr’s encouragement helped her get back into the boat. “My coach was like, ‘You can’t control that. It happened to you, yes, but at the end of the day, you’re doing what you love.’” She continued, “I’m so glad I went back. If I had just stopped then, I would be very unfulfilled.”

Her choice of words is telling -- sailing as fulfillment, as something more than sport.

Mary’s early start at sailing came at the suggestion of her mother, who loved to sail and often completed long-haul trips, including delivering boats from Rhode Island to Bermuda.

Mary (Mebbit) Elizabeth Morano died in 2006. Since then, Mary has seen sailing as an important link to her mother.

“It was so close to my childhood. My mom loved sailing. . . and so it’s something that my brother and I do to hold true to that,” she said, adding:

“It’s just something I love to do. I don’t know why I would stop.”

Mary was out for a month and a half before she was cleared to sail and back on the water.

Reflecting on Mary’s sailing career, Coach Burr choked up. Through all these years, he said, Mary “stuck it out.”

“She is a fantastically good sailor,” but most importantly, she’s been a role model for the team, he said. “She’s guided the team very well. . . There’s no set way that she does it, it’s more of a natural thing, she tends to naturally lead.”

She directed fundraising efforts. “Getting the guys together and hanging out and doing their thing at Cronig’s, Stop & Shop. And it never seemed like a forced act, it was everyone was gung-ho to go and help,” Coach Burr said.

Mary’s leadership “helped the team get through a weaker period in its life,” he said.

In 2015, the team was exceptionally strong, but that spring 11 seniors graduated. As the team essentially started over, “Mary’s the one who helped keep the team bound together,” Coach Burr said.

Her persistence and leadership have built some promising talent on the team.

Mary described talks she had with teammate Coltrane Leport last year, when he was a sophomore. “I was like, ‘You could be an amazing crew, let’s go, let’s do it,’ just pushing him to his fullest, and now he’s a varsity top crew, and I think he might even skipper next year.”

Overall, she is pleased with the team’s progress: “It was an amazing season, in terms of learning. It was definitely a season of building the team . . . but looking back at the season, it could not have been any better, it was the best senior year I could’ve asked for sailing-wise.” The season came to a satisfying close this past weekend, after Mary and her crew, junior Elizabeth O’Brien, placed second out of 13 Cape and Islands teams competing in the Figawi race off Nantucket.

In the fall, Mary will attend the College of Charleston, joining her brother Charlie, who sails there. (Mary, Charlie and their father Charles are all close.)  

She’s excited by the adventure of moving south, to warmer climes, and exploring all that college life has to offer. She’s thinking about studying abroad in Australia -- the surf scene there is a big draw.

She might want to study business -- as a natural-born skipper, Mary knows she wants to be her own boss. She doesn’t have all the details figured out just yet, but she’s honed her approach from years on the water: “You’re constantly checking with yourself: what am I doing, where am I going?”