Safety Under Sail Forum

Safety Under Sail Forum – 28 January

Updated 1.13.2016

The Safety Under Sail Forum expands the dialogue among professional mariners by presenting case studies of actual incidents at sea, discussing emerging technologies, and sharing best practices so as to constantly insure a high level of safety and professionalism in the sail training industry. Professionals engaged in sail training, sea education, vessel operations, and tall ship events participate in this annual symposium.

Session 1 – Changing Global Weather and Climate
Speaker: Joe Sienkiewicz- Chief, Ocean Applications Branch, NOAA/National Weather Service

The global weather / climate system is changing. We are witnessing extreme weather events routinely such as tropical cyclones, flooding rain, high storm tides, severe mid-latitude storms, and droughts. Fortunately, atmospheric and ocean observing of the earth system and resultant weather prediction capabilities have never been better, especially for prediction timescales of 0 to 5 days. However, the earth system on the weather and climate timescales is very complex and not fully understood. This session will attempt to quantify some of the weather threats and trends as they relate to the operations and safety of traditional sailing vessels, discuss the critical use of weather information to make decisions, and host a discussion on planning and mitigation strategies.

Joe Sienkiewicz
Joe Sienkiewicz

Joe Sienkiewicz is Chief of the Ocean Applications Branch at the NOAA Ocean Prediction Center in College Park, MD. He is in charge of forecast technique development and optimizing the use of ocean and satellite observing systems for ocean weather forecasting for the Ocean Prediction Center. Joe is a graduate of NY Maritime and received his MS in Atmospheric Science from the University of Washington. He was a professional mariner and worked as mate and relief captain on tugboats based out of NY Harbor in the early 80s. His professional interests include: explosively intensifying ocean storms, extreme winds in ocean storms, and wave development and propagation. He has authored and co-authored a variety of peered reviewed articles dealing with aspects of marine weather.

Session 2 – Qualification, Certification, Verification, Paperwork Administration: The Making of the Modern Tall Ships Sailor.
Lead Facilitator: Captain Jonathan Kabak, USMMA Sailing Foundation

The operation of anachronistic sailing ships has not exempted ship’s officers from the 21st century world of licensing, operational regulations and risk management. Being able to hand, reef and steer, needs to be paired with a knowledge of environmental regulations, shipyard management practices, not to mention educational pedagogy, and social media. While STCW addresses operational performance standards, it does not address seamanship under sail. A new endorsement scheme from the Nautical Institute begins to address this knowledge gap, but there is still much ground to cover. This session will involve small group and a large format discussion on what is missing from the current training and assessment criteria available, and potential areas for the development of additional guidance and training from Tall Ships America and other organizational partners.

Captain Jonathan Kabak
Captain Jonathan Kabak


A native of New York City, Captain Jonathan Kabak has had a diverse career in the Maritime Industry. Since starting as a young volunteer at South Street Seaport Museum he has sailed on Tall Ships, Oceanographic Research Vessels, Workboats, High Performance Race Boats, and Academy Training Ships. He holds a 1600ton Ocean Masters License for Steam, Motor and Auxiliary Sail vessels.  A graduate of Franklin Pierce College, with a Bachelor of Arts in History, with a concentration in education, Jonathan’s career in sail training has focused on the development of marine education and nautical science programs for all ages.  Currently he serves as the Director of Sail Training at the United States Merchant Marine Academy.  Where in addition to supervising training at the Academy’s Waterfront, he coordinates the SOLAS curriculum and recently served as Master of school’s Flagship T/S KINGS POINTER.  Jonathan also works as a consultant, developing and delivering STCW and Maritime Safety curriculum and providing marine operations services.  He is a member of Tall Ships Americas’ Board of Directors, where he serves on the Ship Operations and Safety, and Membership Committees.  He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife Jennifer and daughter Olivia all of whom are members of Tall Ships America.

Session 3 – The Designated Person Ashore (DPA)
Lead Facilitator: Captain Rick Miller, Maine Maritime Academy
Panel Members:
Captain David Bank, Director of Marine Operations, Sea Education Association
Shannon McKenzie, Director of Watercraft Programs at Mystic Seaport
Nathan Hauser- Vice President/General Manager, Moran Towing Philadelphia

The position of the Designated Person Ashore arose from the casualty of the ferry Herald of Free Enterprise in 1987. A part of the International Safety Management Code (ISM), all international commercial shipping interests now comply with the code and identify a Designated Person Ashore to promote the safe operation of their vessels. Although many sail training vessels are not required to meet these regulations, the Designated Person Ashore provides an important component to safe operations for the tall ship’s fleet. This interactive session will explore the role of a DPA and how it can enhance safe operations in any organization.

Captain Rick Miller
Captain Rick Miller

Captain Richard (Rick) Miller is a Professor of Marine Transportation at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, Maine. His classes of instruction include Terrestrial Navigation (Coastal Piloting), Celestial Navigation, Seamanship, Meteorology, and Marine Weather Routing. Small sailing boats on Barnegat Bay, New Jersey were the foundation for a career on the water. Rick earned his bachelor degree from Springfield College and a Master of Science in Education from
Capella University. He has successfully blended his academic training as an educator with his passion for sailing for more than 30 years, sailing on a number of sail training vessels and with Hurricane Island Outward Bound School. In 2008 he was master aboard Maine Maritime Academy’s schooner Bowdoin for a training expedition to the Arctic along the west coast of Greenland. Rick continues to be active as a mariner, most recently sailing seasonally as a master for Sea Education Association in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He assisted with the development of SEA’s Leadership in a Dynamic Environment course and was recently approved as an instructor of the STCW certification course, Leadership and Managerial Skills.


Captain David Bank
David Bank

David is Director of Marine Operations for SEA Education Association (, based in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. SEA offers a leading off-campus Environmental Studies program focused on the ocean known as SEA Semester®. As Director of Marine Operations, David, along with the Marine Operations team, provide ongoing supervision and safety management for the manning, operations, and maintenance of SEA’s vessels; the SSV Corwith Cramer and the SSV Robert C. Seamans. These two purpose-built oceanographic research sailing vessels currently operate trans-oceanic cruise tracks in the Atlantic and Pacific and are each at sea approximately 270 days a year. In addition, David has worked in the sail training industry since 1987 aboard a variety of vessels including Westward, Californian, Ernestina, Adventuress, Bowdoin, Harvey Gamage, Spirit of Massachusetts, Liberty Clipper, and the A.J. Meerwald. He holds an Auxiliary Sail USCG Master Oceans 1600 tons (GRT) license.

Shannon McKenzie
Shannon McKenzie

Shannon McKenzie is the Director of Watercraft Programs at Mystic Seaport, where she has worked since 2007. In this capacity, she oversees the programs of the Museum’s operational vessels, including the 1908 steamboat SABINO, the 1932 Schooner BRILLIANT, the 1925 electric launch NECESSITY, the 1947 dragger ROANN, the boat livery’s rental sail and row boats, and the charter of the classic Herreshoff sailing yachts AIDA and ARAMINTA as well as other vessels in the Yachts on Exhibit program. In addition, Shannon executes the Watercraft area events including the Antique and Classic Boat Rendezvous and the WoodenBoat Show. Shannon worked on the USCG regulatory compliance, crew hiring, and other marine logistics around the 38th Voyage of the CHARLES W. MORGAN. Before joining Mystic Seaport, she spent almost 10 years working for Sea Education Association as a mate aboard their sailing vessels, then as the Marine Operations Coordinator. She holds a 500 ton Ocean license and lives with her family in Mystic, CT.

Nate Hauser
Nate Hauser

Nathan is a 1998 graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point.  Nathan joined Moran in 2002 as a Chief Engineer aboard a ship docking tug in Philadelphia. Nathan was promoted in 2010 to General Manager of Moran’s Philadelphia Division and appointed Vice President in 2011.  He currently manages a fleet of four harbor tugs and approximately 40 employees as well as being involved in many exciting corporate training and operations initiatives.  He also serves as a member of Moran’s Corporate Design Team and Quality Steering Committee. Nathan served 14 years in the Naval Reserve achieving the rank of Lieutenant Commander.  He is an avid aviator, serving as a Tow Pilot for Brandywine Soaring and a Young Eagles Coordinator with the Experimental Aviation Association.  Nathan also serves on the board of the Maritime Charter High School of Philadelphia and on the Board of Governors with the Ports of Philadelphia Maritime Society. Nathan maintains current USCG Licensure as follows: Master of Towing – Oceans; 2nd Mate Unlimited – Oceans; 1600 ton Master – Oceans; 3rd Assistant Engineer – Unlimited Horsepower – Steam, Motor and Gas Turbine; USCG Designated Examiner for Towing Officer Endorsements; STCW 95 Certifications. Nathan resides in Newark, Delaware with his wife Amber and two young children.


Have you registered yet? Crew Grants are still available!

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