Ever wonder what it’s like to be the Captain of a tall ship?

Welcome to Meet the Captains! A new feature we’ll share with you quarterly to introduce the wonderful Captains of Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain. Today you’ll meet our Quarter 2 Captains, Brendan Reed and Cassie Sleeper, and hear about their path to command.


Q: How did you get into sailing?

Cassie: “Growing up I was very active in the Girl Scouts and I participated in a two weekend sailing trip on Swift of Ipswitch. I honestly didn’t like it that much! After high school graduation I got a call from the Sea Education Association, offering me a scholarship (and college credit) to sail on their brand new boat Robert C. Seamans, because of my trip through the Girl Scouts. I had no good reason not to take the offer. I absolutely loved that trip.”

Brendan: “After nearly a decade of working in restaurants and having weird side jobs at renaissance festivals and the occasional circus themed event, I realized that I was deeply dissatisfied with life. On and whim, I decided that I should be a sailor. I sold as much of my stuff as I was able to sell and went to sea on the first boat that would take me.”

Q: What has been your favorite day on the water so far this contract?

Brendan: “Coming out of the gate (Golden Gate Bridge), hands down. I had just taken over as Captain, and handovers and training are stressful. I was filling notebooks with lists and things to remember, wanting to be a good Captain, since this was my first big Captain gig. Then we went to sea. As we crossed under the Golden Gate Bridge it all got easy. I felt the roll of the Pacific Ocean just wash the stress away.” 

Cassie: “My favorite day on the water was probably in Oakland on my first battle sail, as Captain. Ryan Downs, a long time friend of mine, was the Captain for the Hawaiian Chieftain for that day. The wind and current were favorable and we got to set a lot of sails! Lady sailed so well! We had enough room to play around and it was fun battling with a friend.”

Q: How are your sails holding up?

Brendan: “The sails are rough, especially our upper topsail. We basically can’t set it. Every time we touch it a new rip appears. This has given me the opportunity to get to know some of the lesser used sails.”

Cassie: “Our sails are starting to show their age. We have had to stitch some places in the sails where we have accidentally put our fingers through.”

Q: When did you realize that you wanted to take on the role of Captain?

Cassie: “I decided that I wanted to be Captain after I got my 1600 ton ocean masters license and realized I had no command experience. I kind of avoided being Captain for a while because I wanted the opportunity to learn more from someone who had more experience than me. It is kind of intimidating to have to be the one will all the answers.”

Brendan: “I decided that I wanted to be Captain because, well, I’ve had a lot of good Captains through the years, and I wanted to believe that I could be as cool as them. Plus, my back hurts more than it used to and it’s getting harder to keep up with the deckhands.”

Q: You’ve just reached Newport, Oregon. How was your trip up the coast?

Brendan: “The trip up the coast was tough, I’m not going to lie. The seas were bigger than the forecast called for and we got kicked around some. The bio-luminescent plankton was nice to see though. We did see some whales and quite a few dolphins… which made me smile.”

Cassie: “The trip up the coast was good, but super rolly. We had a westerly swell an was trying to drive north which put the 14 foot seas on our beam and made everything move. It was a 2 1/2 day transit, and by the afternoon of the second day, we all just wanted the world to stop moving. We had an Orca family, including a baby, come really close to our ship and take a look at us!”

Q: What training have you done with the crew lately?

Cassie: “We have been working with the crew on throwing dock lines and setting some sails. They are making all of their awesome dock line tosses. All of the day sails that we have been doing lately has really helped this crew come together.”

Brendan: “My most recent bit of training was introducing one of our trainees to the wonderful world of varnish, because the rails were in need of some love. We’ve also had a masterclass on how to use the mizzen.”

Thank you Brendan and Cassie for all you do!