Sea School

An initiative to provide vocational training for maritime careers.

Principal Investigator

Brandi Bednarik, Grays Harbor Historical Seaport

Co-Principal Investigators

Caitlin Stanton, Operations Director, Grays Harbor Historical Seaport

Hali Boyd, Social Media Manager, Grays Harbor Historical Seaport

Sarah Herard, Pending co-investigator, Masters in Education in Training and Development Candidate (expected graduation from University of Michigan Dec. 2017), USCG Master 1600 Ton Oceans with STCW, sail-endorsed and AB Unlimited


The Seafarer Collective (TSC) was created to provide a springboard for aspiring mariners into the industry. TSC seeks to directly support women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, registered tribal members and Pacific Northwest coastal residents. By opening pathways into maritime fields to those who have traditionally not had access to these opportunities, TSC works to sustain and diversify the maritime workforce.

Research Updates


Washington’s maritime industry is growing 6.4 percent annually; however, the workforce is aging and it is difficult to recruit entry-level workers. The existing workforce is homogenous and male-dominated, with only two percent of the global industry identifying as female. The road blocks to a robust, diverse workforce are many: for example, nearly half of experienced tall ship sailors can’t afford professional licensing, which would enable them to become competitive hires. New, accessible pathways into maritime fields are needed.

Results Thus Far 

The Seafarer Collective developed educational programs, including online courses designed to increase knowledge and understanding of the maritime industry, hands-on experiences, and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) credential support. The programs are organized into three tracks. As of 2018, 25 students have taken The Entry Level Merchant Mariner course, which is TSC’s cornerstone program; 8 have taken The Able Seaman, which provides online coursework and an in-person exam that yields a USCG credential; and 33 have taken The Recreational Marlinspike program, which offers initial exposure to the industry. This coursework is affordably priced and available across the country. TSC also awarded financial aid and mentorship support to 11 students to undergo maritime training and USCG licensing. All of the awardees have gone on to higher paying positions in the maritime industry.