How We Learn

Why Kim Hess got her captain’s license

Kim Hess I am always being asked what prompted me to get my Captains license or more correctly my Merchant Marine Officers license.

I can’t honestly say when the seed was actually planted or why, but as soon as it was, it began to grow and grow fast.

I mentioned the idea to a friend of mine, and he encouraged me to do it sooner than later. Within the next month, I had signed up and began Sea School. It's Your Boat Too by Suzanne Giesemann

I do know that a couple of years ago shortly after meeting and having an amazing connection with Suzanne Giesemann, I read her book It’s Your Boat Too.  This book changed the way I saw my role on a boat. It gave me the confidence to take the test (oral and practical) to check out as a skipper at Shake-A-Leg Miami where I had been sailing as an AB (able body) for two years.

Kim and the Shake-A-Leg Pirate Girl Crew Kim and the Shake-a-Leg Pirate Girl Crew.
Shake-A-Leg's Pirate Girl crew eat pizza and show off their tatoos The Pirate Girl Crew share pizza and show off their tattoos after a day on the water.

I initially saw Sea School and the ensuing test as an opportunity to once again up my confidence level. I had plans to cruise whether it be with a partner or by myself, and having very little experience as a skipper (although I am, if I may say so myself, a mighty fine crew), and only having the opportunity at the time to skipper the twenty something Freedoms at Shake, I felt by acquiring the intellectual knowledge, I would then be able to transfer that into practical knowledge when the time came. Kim and her Sea School class

For me, the confidence came in realizing how much I already knew, with the most challenging part about the whole process being the paperwork preparation for the Coast Guard. Trust me, if there is even the most remote possibility that you may decide to do this, start right now logging your hours on every single vessel you are on. For those of you that are now cruising or have been, this will be easy. For me, I had to document sea time over the last 20 years of sailing!

Getting my Captains license was definitely a good thing for me, however, unless you have a desire to use it for professional reasons, I highly recommend ASA’s (American Sailing Association) certifications. ASA Sailing course The information is the same; with an opportunity to apply the information in a practical setting (and be tested on it) is presented. I am a true believer in experiential learning, which is something the Captains license testing doesn’t offer.

Today, I am actively looking for my boat, with hopes to being a live aboard before years end and with my Captains license, I am excited about starting a charter company and getting my ASA instructors certifications so I can share this passion with others.


About Kim

Kim Hess is a sailor, a captain!, a yoga instructor and the author of Yoga Onboard, a practical guide to adapting traditional yoga postures or asana to your vessel. It’s available as a book and DVD.

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