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Whidbey Island Maritime Heritage Foundation

Maritime Heritage and Sail Tours on Whidbey Island

Suva Crew!

Being a part of the Suva’s crew is rewarding, easy, and fun!   No experience necessary! We will help teach you everything you need to know to be a safe and effective member of the crew.   

Suva's crew is all-volunteer and consists of sailors with varying levels of experience, skill, and knowledge.  As a crew member, you are not only learning to sail with us on a historic schooner, but also helping promote the mission of the Whidbey Island Maritime Heritage Foundation. Your job aboard Suva is much more than being a lookout, hoisting sails, clearing the foredeck, or tending a sheet.  You are a customer service representative, a narrator, a naturalist, a historian, a conservationist, a teacher, a cruise director!  Our goal is to provide the best experience to our guests making it more than just a boat ride.

NOTE:  The foundation accepts applications for new crew each year, from January 1 - April 30.  No new crewing applications are accepted after that period due to seasonal time limitations for the training of new crew and the commencement of our regular sailing season.

Read on for more information about becoming a member of the Suva crew!


  • Be at least 16 Years old.
  • Be physically capable of mild exercise such as raising and lowering of sails.
  • Sign our drug-free workplace compliance policy and pass an initial drug screening.

Being a crew member on a commercial sailing vessel certified by the US Coast Guard requires participation in an initial and random drug testing program.  The WIMHF contracts a third party to help manage our compliance program, ensure the randomness of the program and ensure compliance with current US federal regulations.   A portion of your membership fee in the WIMHF goes towards membership in this drug testing program including your initial drug screening.  Once you sign up as a crew member, our compliance program coordinator will contact you with details about your "pre-employment" drug screening.  While your drug screening is "pending", you may still train with our crew on board Suva; however, you may not sail as crew on a commercial sail until your results have returned within full compliance which normally takes only a few days.  


Crew on board the schooner Suva consists of a captain, bosuns, deckhands, and apprentices.  The number of crew we sail with varies based on the type of sail, but normally consists of 4-5 crew members.  Our training program is designed to help all crew obtain the level of crew qualification to which they aspire. See below for a description of each crew position on board Suva.


Apprentices are new trainees and work under the direction and supervision of qualified crew.  No prior sailing experience or knowledge of seamanship is required to sail aboard Suva as an apprentice.  Apprentices will perform tasks and assignments from other qualified members of the crew and work under direct supervision at all times.  Apprentices may serve on commercial sails after they have passed the initial USCG drug screening


Deckhands work on the deck of Suva under the supervision of Bosuns and perform task as assigned.  Deckhands have met the qualification requirements of the training program and demonstrated the applicable knowledge as required. Their duties and responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Serving as lookout
  • Handling dock lines
  • Ensure the safety of passengers
  • Raising and lowering sails
  • Tending sheets
  • Keeping the vessel shipshape.


Bosuns (boatswains) are qualified crewmembers, considered one of the ship’s officers, and work under the direction of the Sr. Bosun, or the Captain.  Bosuns supervise and manage deck operations, work parties, training, watches, navigation, and engineering operations.  Bosuns are the “keepers of the boat” and tasked with maintaining the vessel’s rig and structure. Vessels require quite a bit of upkeep, and Bosuns are the ones who keep it all working. 

Bosuns with appropriate credentials may serve as Captain of small boat (dinghy/tender) operations with passengers onboard.

Bosuns are required to maintain CPR and first-aid qualifications.

Senior Bosun

The senior bosun, also known as the Chief Mate, works under the direction of the Captain and supervises, directs, and trains the entire deck and engineering crew.  The senior bosun holds authority and responsibility second only to the captain. The senior bosun is the master’s eyes, ears, and often mouth.  They are a leader and a mentor and fully embrace and promote the mission of WIMHF. The senior bosun manages the crew and oversees the daily operation of the vessel including crew training, the education program, and quality control. The senior bosun often acts as Sail Master underway, and also serves as a watch leader on voyages.

The senior bosun should be able to sail unsupervised in a small boat and possess knowledge of "rules of the road" (COLREGS) and basic costal navigation. They are required to possess a Washington State safe boating license, and, if they carry paying passengers in the ship’s tender, they are required to hold a USCG Master’s license (OUPV or greater).

The senior bosun must also be knowledgeable of Suva's operating procedures and possess an in-depth knowledge of boat systems, including sails and rigging, the sanitation system, the electrical system, the vessel's powerplant and drivetrain, and fuel systems.

The senior bosun must have the ability to maneuver Suva under sail and power in vicinity of docks, wharfs, quays, or other vessels and be capable of performing all docking, anchoring, and mooring procedures.


The captain is licensed by the USCG and holds ultimate responsibility and authority on board the vessel.  They are responsible for the safety of all persons on board and the efficient operation of the vessel.  The captain is responsible for safe navigation and has a legal obligation to operate the vessel in accordance with applicable federal and state maritime laws.  Suva captains must have considerable sailing experience.  The captain operates under the direction of the USCG, applicable federal and state laws, and the WIMHF Board of Directors. 

Suva captains must hold the following credentials and qualifications:

  • Current USCG Merchant Mariner Credential as a licensed Master of at least 50-ton vessels operated in inland waters with sailing endorsement. 
  • Current USCG medical certificate
  • Current Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC)
  • FCC marine radio operator’s permit
  • Current first aid and CPR qualifications. 

If you hold the appropriate credentials and are interested as serving as a captain aboard Suva, please let us know!  We can help!


Ship's Articles, also known as "shipping articles" or "articles of agreement", are an agreement between the ship's Master and crew.  They date back to the 1700s and include things such as conditions of employment, wages, details of a voyage, ports of call, and standards of conduct.  Articles were originally verbal in nature as most sailors at the time could not read; however, as reading and writing became more prevalent, articles became more formal.  

Today, formal ship's articles are still required on larger commercial vessels, but we still incorporate an informal set for the schooner Suva.  These articles are an agreement between the WIMHF and crew and embody our culture and standards of conduct regarding the way we act, treat each other, and treat our customers.  All crew are asked to become familiar with and sign the ship's articles.



As a member of the Suva crew, you will receive a weekly email about crew and training opportunities.  To volunteer for these events, just reply to the email and the Schedules Officer will assign the appropriate crew based on availability and qualifications.

Any questions about the Crew Membership Application may be directed to:

To get started, return to our Becoming a Suva Crew Member page and sign up as a new crew member. 

To continue reading about crew training, click HERE

For current crew wishing to access crew-only information, click HERE

(requires a PDF reader such as Adobe Reader or Foxit PDF  Reader)

Our Mission: To create awareness of the Maritime Heritage of Whidbey Island,  Coupeville, and Penn Cove through education of, promoting, and preserving its maritime traditions. 

Copyright 2021


PO Box 532

Coupeville, WA  98239

Whidbey Island Maritime Heritage Foundation (WIMHF)  is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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