Tucked among other office buildings along Main Street sits a small, often-locked office with the words “Captain School” written across the glass door. But what happens in the small office? Well U.S. Coast Guard approved captain’s license courses.
“There is a big demand in Destin,” said Owner Patrick Casey.
The Captain School was founded by Casey in 1994 in the Virgin Islands, and in 2000, Casey moved his business to the states, opening schools in eight other locations. Destin happens to be his eighth school.
“We got a lot of people from that area calling,” said Casey.
The instructor of the Destin location, Mike Baker, a retired Navy Seal, became one of the 17 instructors after taking one of the courses from Casey himself.
“He has really great program,” said Baker.
Now, Baker educates aspiring captains from ages 18 to 80.
The school offers 11 different courses. These include: OUPV—a mariners first license for vessels up to 65 feet and 100 gross tons, Masters—an upgrade from OUPV to larger vessels, a sailing endorsement class, a towing endorsement class, Marine Radio Operator’s Permit, various safety courses involving crisis management, courses for security officers and CPR and First Aid courses.
Baker reported that most of the classes he teaches involve licenses for captains that transport paying customers—such as a charter boat or a water taxi.
Baker told the Log that the school is one of the few schools that are approved to administer the tests after educating their future mariners, and according to Casey the school has a 97 percent passing rate.
Casey attributes this success to the class sizes. He keeps them small in order to give each participant a more focused education.
“We have no problem with working with people one-on-one,” said Baker. “I don’t know too many schools that do that.”
The courses start at $750, and for more information, see www.captainschool.com or call (239)584-0271.