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Weighing anchor on a career

New school covers instruction at sea

The Hawaiian Chieftain is one of the vessels on which the Sea School Northwest offers instruction. Photo credit: Sea Sailing Northwest

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For those individuals thinking of a career on the water, the Sea School Northwest (SSNW) offers a gangplank to achieving that goal.

Beginning as a dream, the SSNW set sail in January 2018 after 18 months of preparation with the goal of addressing emergent needs in the maritime industry.

In Washington state, the male-dominated maritime industry is experiencing an annual growth of 6.4 percent while at the same time the current workforce is decreasing.

Compounding the situation is the cost of obtaining the experience and education needed to secure the professional licensing required to work at sea.

While addressing the labor shortage issue, SSNW also strives to support the professional development of underrepresented populations on the water by offering an intensive eight-week course.

"We believe that experience is the best teacher, and our goal is to get new mariners out on the water, getting hands-on experience in the first week of the program," wrote Hali Boyd, the school's director.

Much of the instruction is conducted at sea on board either the tall ship Hawaiian Chieftain or Lady Washington.

"Our curriculum blends classroom learning, hands-on practical applications and participation in the running of a working vessel. We also believe that a diverse crew is a strong crew."

In each class there are two to four cadets. The classes are started and finished on a rolling eight-week schedule. The instructional program is also designed for individuals with no maritime experience.

David Livingstone serves as the primary instructor. He is a graduate of the Maine Maritime Academy and has extensive working knowledge of ships.

"Our instruction is first-rate, and we are able to work with a variety of schedules," Boyd added.

Financial aid is available to qualified candidates, and the SSNW is currently accepting applications for upcoming classes.

At the completion of the course, cadets will be prepared to earn their United States Coast Guard Ordinary Seafarer credential.  

"This is an excellent starting place for entry-level jobs in the commercial maritime industry," continued Boyd.

"We have a strong mentoring program that guides students toward professional matches based on the individual student's goals."

These opportunities to work on the water range from commercial tugboats to cruise ships to other job opportunities in the maritime industry.

"The industry is about to experience a massive hiring need with an entire generation of mariners preparing to retire," Boyd said.

"The opportunity for a career on the water is here, and SSNW would love to see you out on the water!"

For more information about SSNW, visit or call 360.589.8212.

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