During my teens, I raced youth sailboats at the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club in Holland Michigan where my parents were members. Then in High School, I sailed my parents 25 keelboat for eight years taking short trips, hosting guests on day sails, and enjoying the challenges of rough seas. In 2007, My wife and I chartered a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and then more charters on Lake Michigan. Somewhere while sailing on blue waters, I became passionate to the idea of becoming a sailboat captain myself, with aspirations to teach others to sail and take passengers on short voyages. After researching the requirements for captains license, the goal appeared reachable, but not easy, as the requirements included 360 days of Documented Experience in the operation of vessels, with 90 of the 360 days occurring in the last three years. Since I believe I had most of the 360 days on parents sailboat, I needed a way to get 30 days on the water in three consecutive years. Therefore, I volunteered for one year with the Bay Shore Race Committee out of Holland, Michigan, and then as crew for three years on various racing sailboats. These sailboats range from 27 to 35. This goal has taken determination and persistence, as the sailboat racing included driving one and half hours on Wednesdays and some Saturdays to the marina dock for hours of practicing and sailboat racing. I think the experience is similar to dancing with many different partners, which ultimately gives you better control and command of multiple boating situations.
This spring, I passed the written exams, completed other requirements, and filed my necessary paperwork. Today I received an official response from the United States Coast Guard that my application for US Coast Guard Captains license has been approved, with Master credentials including power and auxiliary sail, up to 50 gross tons, on Great Lakes and Inland waters. The Masters license enables the captain to take more than six passengers, up to the maximum allowed per vessel.
I do not see my day job changing just yet, but I plan to use the new credentials to enjoy life in a new way with teaching others to sail, providing multi-day adventure trips, and delivering yachts.
My special thanks go out to:
- My wife and family as I was away Working on my captains license so many evenings and weekends
- My brothers, Jim, Jerry, Gary, and Pat who are all boaters, and my sailing brother Mike who is no longer with us, but long remembered
- Captain Nic Battaglia for great stories, advise, and help on tough subjects
- Captain Kim Grotenhuis for the sailing opportunities on Dorothy Gale and Paradigm
- Bay Shore Race Committee for the time on the water and great friendships
- All the boat owners that had me crew on their boats
- My employer for allowing me to escape work a wee bit early on Wednesdays
- My friends who would listen to the dreamer
- Mariners Learning System for their great self-paced coast guard captain study program