Sea School Northwest in Aberdeen to train maritime workers during an eight-week program.

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Hali Boyd, who began her maritime career aboard the Lady Washington, has been named the director of the newly formed Sea School Northwest at the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport.

“The Lady Washington was my first vessel,” she says. She’s had many more since, from the Connecticut-based S/V Unicorn to the Portland, Oregon-based Portland Spirit, where she served as vessel master, commanding all docking, underway maneuvering, security sweeps and crew management.

The demand for qualified maritime workers is great, and there aren’t many programs that offer the curriculum. But Brandi Bednarik, Grays Harbor Seaport’s executive director, was able to secure a three-year, $512,000 grant from the Bellevue-based Magic Cabinet Foundation to offer scholarships to up to 24 people each year to get the credentials needed for the $21.4 billion — and growing each year — maritime industry.

“Classes will be facilitated aboard the Hawaiian Chieftain,” says Boyd. “It’s going to be an eight-week curriculum with the intention of being a springboard to the maritime industry.”

During the two-month course, students will be taught all aspects of seamanship, including engineering, fuel systems and much more. The Chieftain gives students the opportunity to learn all the basic knots and rigging work that is used on more modern ships, says Bednarik. At the end of the course, Boyd will work with students to get them official able-bodied seamen credentials and an entry-level job in the field.

Sea School Northwest is currently accepting applicants to its first cohort in July. Scholarship applications can be found at seaschoolnw.org. Full and partial scholarships are available.

Scholarships are open to all, but Bednarik and Boyd say populations currently not well-represented in the industry, such as people of color, women, tribal members and the LGBTQ community, will be strongly considered.
The median salary of maritime workers is about $70,000 annually, and the aging workforce is creating opportunities for new blood across the country and beyond.

Sea School Northwest has already kicked off its pilot cadet cohort, with a total of 12 participants.

“Our pilot cohort is made up of a mix of professional mariners and new-to-the-industry sailors, and we will be working with them over the next eight weeks to gather feedback on the curriculum and continue their professional development,” says Boyd.

Also on board for the class are David Livingstone, who will serve as Sea School officer, and Captain Sarah Herard with Bluewater Maritime Consulting, who will serve as curriculum developer and support the school’s crew development grant recipients as they progress through their necessary Coast Guard licensing process.