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Press Release: Announcing the Launch of The Seafarer Collective

Updated: Nov 12, 2018

Happy #NationalMaritimeDay! We selected this date to formally announce the launch of The Seafarer Collective program to the public and the press. We're on a mission to change the face of the maritime industry, with innovative on-the-job training that gives you a foot in the door to a career at sea.

Want to work a maritime job? Visit to fill out your application.


Media Release


May 22, 2018


Hali Boyd, Program Director


The Seafarer Collective program, launching July,

will provide vocational training for adults 18 to 35 aboard a tall ship

Aberdeen, WA— Creaking masts, canvas sails, and a wooden figurehead scanning the horizon. Not what you might think of when you picture the training platform for a modern maritime career, but a new program, The Seafarer Collective, sees it differently.

“We saw an opportunity with our vessels [tall ships Hawaiian Chieftain and Lady Washington] because so many of our mariners were successfully making the switch to cruise ships, tugboats, and other types of vessels where you make a good, family wage,” says Program Director, Capt. Hali Boyd.

Deckhand Hawaiian Chieftain Sea School Northwest
Deckhand Kiki glances up at Hawaiian Chieftain's rigging.

“Starting your training on a traditional vessel like tall ship Hawaiian Chieftain, you learn the fundamentals of being a good deckhand out in the elements. You learn knots and line handling, how to stand watch, teamwork, and awareness of your surroundings. All of these core skills prepare you go in and be effective on a modern vessel. This is why the US Coast Guard still sends their cadets to learn on the 295’ flagship Barque Eagle.”

The program is the brainchild of Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, a nonprofit located in Aberdeen, Washington. Slated to launch in July, The Seafarer Collective will provide training sessions year-round, during which students will live aboard the training ship Hawaiian Chieftain seven days a week. The program was in part sparked in response to the national lack of workers for the high-paying trades, at a time when 4-year degrees are resulting in skyrocketing student loan debt without any guarantee of employment. The average salary for maritime workers in Washington state is $70,800.

The Seafarer Collective vessel Hawaiian Chieftain
The Seafarer Collective training vessel Hawaiian Chieftain.

The program website also cites the need for younger workers and more diversity in the current Washington state maritime workforce, in which the median age is 54 years old, and a large gender gap exists. To facilitate access, the program is offering over 35 scholarships per year to aspiring sailors, with a specific invitation for women, people of color, LGBTQ people, registered tribal members and coastal residents to apply.

What does all of this look like in action? According to the website, students participate in the day-to-day running of the vessel to learn hands-on skills, and complete weekly lessons in a digital classroom with a group discussion afterward. Meals, a bunk, computer access, and essential gear are provided, as is ongoing career counseling.

Small boat Hawaiian Chieftain
Using VHF radios and outboard engines are two important skills deckhands are trained in.

“We designed this curriculum to work for a lot of learning styles” says Executive Director Brandi Bednarik. “There is hands-on, there are video lessons, articles from industry publications, visiting professionals who will talk about their job in the maritime industry. Our goal is that when a hiring manager at a maritime company sees ‘The Seafarer Collective’ on a resume, they know that person has gotten a solid foundation of practical training, and is ready to work hard for them.”

If successfully completed, The Seafarer Collective students leave with more than work experience. Weekly assignments during the program help them submit their application to the US Coast Guard for an “Ordinary Seaman” rating and Merchant Mariner Credential, like a driver’s license for professional sailors. A group of “mentor mariners,” as TSC has dubbed them, provide ongoing career guidance and a sounding board as alumni advance.

“We don’t have formal placement partnerships starting out,” says Board President David Douglass. “What we are starting with is the 30-year reputation of Grays Harbor Historical Seaport for conditioning people for sea, and all of the relationships that comes with. I feel confident our students will be successful finding the right job. So many of our people have already gone that route without all of the support The Seafarer Collective will be providing.”

Backed by three years of funding from the Bellevue-based Magic Cabinet Foundation and Washington Sea Grant, the program is certain to continue through 2021, and organizers are working to make it permanent. The program is currently accepting applications for people who want to participate. Full details and an application can be found at

Caitlin Stanton
Caitlin Stanton, a previous GHHS sailor, made the jump to tugboats before TSC


(Editor’s Note: For media interested in arranging interviews with ship captains, crews, leadership, or for high resolution photos, contact staff at

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