The Tower Pulse

Setting sail for a passionate career

Photo+courtesy+of+Reis+Dempsey+%2719
Photo courtesy of Reis Dempsey '19

Photo courtesy of Reis Dempsey '19

Photo courtesy of Reis Dempsey '19

Reis Dempsey '19, Staff Writer

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For as long as I can remember, the boats skimming across Lake St. Clair have fascinated me.  This lake has the distinction of being an international border and also part of the Great Lakes waterway. From these waters you can set sail for anywhere in the world.  I dreamed of what it must be like to fly across the water at the helm of a large vessel and promised myself that someday I would find out.

The summer I turned twelve, my uncle got a new boat.  Her hull was a beautiful shade of azure with rails that shone like silver.  The fresh coat of wax gleamed in the summer sun. He asked if I would be interested in a weekly job keeping it clean.  I jumped at the opportunity and put all my energy into keeping that boat looking brand new. Although I did not expect anyone but my uncle to notice, I drew attention from boat owners in the neighboring wells.  Within a few weeks I had acquired the job of keeping five other boats shipshape.

I loved every minute I spent working on these yachts, but didn’t realize I had become the owner and operator of a small business.  I ran on a schedule, kept track of my time, calculated the cost of supplies, created invoices, performed accounting and became proficient with estimates. I quickly understood that customer service is of the utmost importance.  Once, that meant rushing to clean up after an unruly flock of seagulls when the owner and his guests arrived much earlier than expected. Developing the communication skills necessary to work with different types of people many years my senior has been an invaluable lesson.  

On weekends I often went out on my uncle’s boat.  Paying close attention as he skillfully steered the vessel out of her well, I learned about cruising speed and optimum rpms.  I practiced knots and tying lines. Important lessons regarding depth, chart reading and radar came next. Eventually, I took a course and earned my boater’s license.

I will never forget the first time he gave me the helm.  I assumed he would stand right next to me but instead he sat down in the back.  I was nervous, but docked without incident. As the weeks went by I continued operating the boat.  I learned how to account for wind speed and gained confidence. As it had been with my cleaning business, other people started to notice me driving and began asking if I could drive their vessels.  They relished the idea of being able to relax with their family and friends and not have the responsibility of the yacht. Driving different boats taught me even more and I gained valuable experience.

My business plan was always based on hard work and excellent customer service.  This has served me well and provided the basis for my business to grow. Each year I have added new clients and expanded the services I provide.  While keeping these vessels clean and maintained is rewarding, there is nothing I love more than being able to captain them. There is something to be learned from each client and from each boat.  While I have thus far driven boats up to 70 feet in length, I am most looking forward to my upcoming adventure. Next year, I will be part of a crew transporting a 112 foot yacht from Grosse Pointe to Fort Lauderdale.  I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to earn money doing what I love the most.

 

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Setting sail for a passionate career