For the first time since 1985, Tabor Academy introduces a new Captain of SSV TABOR BOY. After spending over 30 years as Master of Tabor Boy and a teacher of Nautical Science at Tabor, Captain James Geil retired at the end of August. Cap. Geil took over the helm from Captain George E. Glaeser, who also guided the ship for over 30 years. Today, we are pleased to introduce the newest Captain of our beloved SSV TABOR BOY, Captain Jay Amster!
Captain Amster grew up on Long Island, NY, and despite being surrounded by the ocean, didn't spend much time on the water as a child. It was during his time in college when Jay was introduced to the sea. "I didn't spend any time on the water until I was in school at Northeastern University. A friend of mine came back from doing a SEA Semester and wouldn't stop talking about it." The Sea Education Association (SEA) at Woods Hole is a global teaching, learning and research community dedicated to the exploration, understanding and stewardship of marine and maritime environments. "I applied thinking they are not going to let me in because I don't have a science background and I don't have any sailing experience." To his surprise, Captain Amster was accepted to the program and began his first sailing journey in 1999. "I sailed on the SSV CORWITH CRAMER as a student and it was the first time I experienced adults who were working at something they were passionate about, so I changed my path. I was excited to see people who enjoyed coming to work. I did that program more than 20 years ago now and it's what got me into this life on boats. It's cliché to say but it changed everything."
After college Captain Amster had ambitions of becoming Third Mate at SEA. He figured he would "sail for a little while, 9-18 months" to qualify for that position. It turned out that Captain Amster sailed for five years before he went back to SEA and applied to be Third Mate, sailing in ships such as the SCHOONER ERNESTINA, the HARVEY GAMAGE, the US BRIG NIAGARA, the PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II, and the SCHOONER VIRGINIA. Captain Amster made his first voyage as Third Mate at SEA in 2007, and between 2007 and 2020 he spent more than 10 years sailing in SEA's ships in various capacities, becoming captain there in 2016.
When asked about his prior knowledge of Tabor Academy and the SSV TABOR BOY Jay said, "I knew that Tabor Boy existed and she had a long-term captain. Cap. Geil had been here for the majority of my life so I knew Tabor was a great school with a great boat." Captain Amster went on to say, "Boats are funny things. Despite the fact that they are inanimate objects, I think that they are alive in many ways. They are alive with the echoes of the people who have been in them in the past. This schooner feels lived in, she has a big history and when you step onboard, it's easy to feel the weight of that."
In addition to his role as Director of Tabor Boy programs and Master of TABOR BOY, Captain Amster will also be teaching Celestial Navigation classes. "I am excited to work with high school students again; I spent a long time teaching undergraduates. I am also excited to be in a place where the students are really jazzed to be here." In addition, Captain Amster is looking forward to becoming involved in the Tabor community and having his 10-month old son grow up in this area. "Tabor seems like a great place, and everyone I talked to is really enthusiastic about it, which made this a really easy decision to come onboard."
Looking towards the future, Captain Amster is thinking about the next phase of the life of SSV TABOR BOY. What other ways can the school be using the schooner? How can we, as a school, involve more people? How can we expose more of the TA community to being out on the water on TABOR BOY?
"I am just really thrilled to be here. It's been a long time since I have been in a place that is brand new to me, and I have forgotten how daunting and exhilarating it can be at the same time. I am really looking forward to it!
Please help us in welcoming Captain Amster. We look forward to all the adventures we will share together!