Common Staffing Questions
- Who are the Sail Caribbean staff?
All Sail Caribbean instructors are handpicked from a pool of over a hundred candidates each year. Only those with excellent credentials from recognized sailing and scuba institutions are considered for positions. Our land-based programs only hire staff with exceptional backgrounds in marine science and outdoor education. Because this is an important time in your life, and because this program can make such a positive impact on your personal growth, we require that all staff also have strong backgrounds in working with teenagers. Being a skilled sailor, diver, or researcher, is not enough. Personal interviews with our senior staff (most often Mike Liese) and extremely thorough reference and background checks are done without exception.
To ensure that only the best person will be in charge of each boat, all new staff must first prove themselves as Mates before being promoted to the role of Captain. As Mates, they rotate through the fleet, joining a different boat each day, bringing a fresh perspective and teaching style to the day's sail and activities. In doing so, they learn the specifics of our program and demonstrate their skills, before earning the important leadership position of Captain.
The average age of Sail Caribbean's senior staff is 30 and our overall student-to-staff ratio is 4:1.
- How are the programs staffed?
Each boat has a Captain and Mate who live onboard and who are personally responsible for the safety, well-being and success of the crew. Each fleet has a Program Director overseeing the day-to-day operations of the program, and supervising and supporting the staff. A staff boat may also accompany the fleet, carrying additional equipment and support staff. With an overall student-to-staff ratio of 4:1, you can be sure you'll get plenty of individual attention.
- What formal training do staff members complete?Prerequisites for all Sail Caribbean staff are Wilderness First Aid and current CPR certifications. Then, at the beginning of the summer, our staff spend 10 full days together onsite in the Caribbean training in safety procedures, our curriculum and our philosophy, including concepts of group dynamics and team building.
Every day our Program Directors lead staff meetings to discuss the progress of each crew and to address student and program concerns. Our Founding Director, Mike Liese, oversees and supports the Program Directors first hand the entire summer in the Caribbean, sharing the knowledge gained throughout his 28 years of experience running hundreds of Sail Caribbean programs.
Our dive staff are all professional dive instructors, representing a range of instructor level certifications from PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors.) Mike Rowe, one of our dive directors, is a PADI Course Director (an instructor of instructors) and has certified over 800 dive instructors over the past 10 years.
- Are staff members required to have a boat captain's license?While many of our captains do have captain's licenses, we don't require it. Doing so would exclude too many strong candidates. The typical captain's license, often referred to as a "6-pack", meets U.S. Coast Guard standards for operating a vessel in U.S. waters with six or less people onboard. It requires only a written test and a recorded number of sea hours. It does not require any practical test of seamanship or boat-handling ability.
Importantly, having a captain's license does not ensure that a person will excel at teaching sailing to and managing a group of teenagers - an imperative for having responsibility for one of our boats. Sail Caribbean staff must demonstrate they can expertly handle a 50' sailboat with 12 students onboard - all new staff must first prove themselves as mates before being promoted to the role of captain.
- How many adults are on each boat?
There are always at least two, and sometimes three, adults onboard for 10-12 students when the boat is underway. A support staff boat may also accompany our BVI and Leeward Island fleets, providing sleeping quarters to the Program Director, Fleet Captain, Food Coordinator, and Medical Officer, as well as carrying additional supplies and equipment. These additional staff normally sail with the students each day, rotating through the fleet like the Mates. Our overall student-to-staff ratio on all programs is 4:1.
- Who are the Dive Staff?
Our BVI dive staff are full-time, dive professionals, working year-round for our dive center in the BVI, Sail Caribbean Divers. In addition to their teaching certifications from PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors), our dive instructors are thoroughly trained and experienced with our BVI diving operations, procedures, protocols, safety policies and dive boats. They are intimately familiar with the many dive sites in the BVI.
Furthermore, our dive instructors are solely focused on educating and supervising divers at an exceptional level of safety. They do not have responsibility for the sailing or living experience of the students onboard the sailboats.
Our programs outside the BVI team up with trusted PADI dive facilities who have worked with us for many years in each location, providing excellent staff, boats and dive equipment. The combination of a Sail Caribbean Divemaster or Dive Instructor and the local knowledge of these PADI professionals ensures that our students get the utmost from their underwater experiences.
All of the above enables us to provide the best diving experience possible to our students.