Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:6:29

How I got my job and where I'm going

Video transcript

So growing up I never intended to be a boat captain. It was never a career path that I was interested in. I always liked the water. I grew up sailing. My parents were huge sailors. And while I was growing up, it wasn't optional that I sail. But I was more interested in business and other aspects. I went to college studying business at first and realized that I wasn't interested in that and was really inspired with my history classes that I was taking. Ended up majoring in history and intended to go into politics afterwards. I had a job lined up on a campaign in Philadelphia. Unfortunately the candidate lost the primary five days before I graduated, and I lost my job. But then I became very fortunate. The Saturday before graduation, I met a guy on the docks in Newport, Rhode Island who gave me a tour of his boat. He ended up being a politician in Massachusetts a couple years back and was also looking for a boat captain, and we made a deal that day that if I took care of his boat, he would teach me about politics. I had gotten my captain's license over Christmas break during college of my senior year. I didn't know when else I would have the time to do, to get my license, 'cause I was figuring that I would go right into working and that would just escape me. And it's a license that you can hold for life, so I wanted to have that just in case. So I thought I would only be working for one summer on his boat and learn from him the, you know, more of the political game and then transition into that into the winter. He did teach me a little bit about politics, but what I learned is that I like boats way more, so I stuck with that. I worked for him for three summers, and when I was ready to move on from his boat, I got a call from a friend to interview for a new boat, which is the one I'm on now and have been for five years. My first interview with the owner was five minutes long. It was at his house in Martha's Vineyard. I shook his hand. I told him a little bit about myself. He said, "Okay, that sounds great. "Go to the boat, it's in Maine, "and I want it here in six months. "Here's a credit card." So I didn't really know much about him, what he wanted, much about the boat, so it was definitely a learning curve to get used to him and the boat, and no one was there to give me a proper handover to explain things, so I was just figuring it out as I went. So the process of getting your captain's license is a couple phases, the first of which is you have to take a course, which is 80 hours long, and then take a four-part test which encompasses marine knowledge, navigation, different lights, and deck hardware. After that you need to have 720 registered days on the water, which was the most difficult part of the process, and then pass all their medical standards. The full process takes about three months in order to do all the paperwork, and then you have your license for five years. A registered day on the water is a day of four hours or more on the water in a position that requires you to actually be using the boat. And the person who owns the boat or the captain of the boat has to sign off on that day. I grew up sailing with my parents and sailed my whole life, and that's how I accumulated the days, and that's why I was able to step into this role at such a young age. Most people start on boats, you know, in their 20s, and they have to work in a deck position or in a mate position to build up the certain amount of days in order to get their captain's license. The 80-hour course to get your captain's license is in a classroom and it has to be certified by the Coast Guard. When I took my course, I stayed at my sister's house in Boston and went to their facility in Boston in order to take the test. And the cost of the license is $1100. The captain's license course is only one small aspect of actually getting hired as a captain. The course just tests your knowledge of your seaworthiness. It has nothing to do with your ability to fix anything. It doesn't do anything with your decision-making. There's no practical part of the exam. It's all written. So most of getting your captain's job is upon recommendations, and you have to prove yourself. So in my role captaining a 64-foot sailboat, the next step would be to move up to a 80 to 90-foot boat, which would have two to three crew. And then you just keep moving up to bigger and bigger boats if you wanna make more money. That's the usual progression. You need to get onto bigger boats, which then you have more crew, and your position turns into more of a management role than actually sailing the boat or fixing any of the systems yourself. You're managing three to five crew, you're managing customs and boatyards, and you're not, you're no longer a boat captain. You're more of a manager. My advice for someone that wants to get involved in the industry is that they should do it. It's a great profession. It's a lot of fun. But you also have to know the downsides of it. It's gonna take a long time to build up your sea days in order to get your license, so you're gonna be starting at a lower position role, and you're gonna be there for five or so years until you can build up the time. In doing so, you're gonna be traveling to some of the greatest places, but it will take you a while to accumulate the days. Something I wish I had known before I got into the industry is how hard it is to get out of it. People had always told me that when I was younger and I never believed them, but it's very true. Right now I have a good salary, I have very little expenses, and if I'm gonna go into another industry, I'm gonna start low on the totem pole and I'm gonna be making maybe half as much as I do now and my expenses are gonna more than double. I think the way that I will be able to get out is having planned for it. I've saved over the last eight years, so I have a good amount of money saved up to invest in my next opportunity to create that next income source. A lot of people are in this career for life. Many of them work with their partner. That'll be a captain and chef team or a captain and stew, which is the person who takes care of the inside of the boat. Captain and chef or captain and stew team are actually very desirable, so it works out very well. The one thing is it's hard to have kids because you can't raise them on the boat. Some people are able to make it work, and they get landside jobs that coincide with their boating jobs, or find yachting jobs that are more in one location as opposed to traveling around the world. So some people are able to make it work.