The Maritime Academy invites junior and senior high school students to open days

PORT TOWNSEND – This course provides professional training and credits towards graduation. It’s also about rowing, sailing, boat building and saving lives at sea – and it’s free.

Port Townsend Maritime Academy, now in its third year, will host two open days this month to showcase next fall’s program to high school juniors and seniors across the Northern Olympic Peninsula.

“This really is an amazing opportunity for kids who learn by doing, love being outdoors and are interested in all things maritime,” Kelley Watson, a teacher at the academy, said this week.

The first open house, in-person at 5:30 p.m. this Wednesday at the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St., will offer information about program activities and credits students earn, as well as a tour of the center’s facilities and boats. .

Another open house will be held online at 5:30 p.m. on May 9 via Zoom; the link is

Watson also welcomes email contacts from prospective students and their parents at [email protected]

“I’m happy to meet families one-on-one,” she added.

In his reflections on the maritime center’s website,, Watson writes about the variety of levels of experience his students have brought to the maritime academy. She also notes their courage as they faced the challenges of these morning classes.

“The first month, we rowed. Some of the students were pretty competent right off the bat and ready to take on Seventy48,” she said, referring to the Maritime Center 70-mile, 48-hour race that takes place every June.

“Some students,” she added, “had hardly ever been in a boat before.

“A brilliant student was hesitant; we tied a long line to the bow, pushed them out and they rowed hesitantly to the safety of the dock.

“Within weeks, this same youngster confidently rowed the 1.25 miles to the Marine Science Center in a 12-foot skiff from Skunk Island without stopping.”

More of Watson’s commentary on the maritime academy can be found at by typing “Kelley Watson” into the search box at the top right of the website.

Port Townsend Maritime Academy classes will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on weekdays during the 2022-2023 school year. Students can earn up to three credits in Career and Technical Education, English Language Arts, and Physical Education, while learning practical skills ranging from carpentry to navigation.

There is a rig operator unit where students learn about fishing boat safety: how to respond to fire, crew overboard and flooding. Advanced wilderness first aid is another unit. The academy also organizes many local field trips.

Registration information for the academy, a partnership between West Sound Technical Skills Center, Port Townsend School District and the Maritime Center, can be found at There are no prerequisites or GPA requirements, Watson said, while the maximum enrollment is 20 students.

Robin Mills, program director at the Northwest Maritime Center, noted that Watson’s courses are designed to provide students with professional skills as well as real-world experiences they won’t get on a traditional campus.

“One of the things I would like families on the peninsula to know is that the shipping industry is in desperate need of workers,” she added. The academy’s program gives juniors and seniors a chance to explore this, one of Washington state’s biggest industries — where jobs pay a living wage, Mills said.

A maritime career can mean going to sea, traveling the world, working on the peninsula or all of these things – with “a skill set that can go many different ways”, she said.


Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or