Captain Hans J. Hoffmann
USCG 100-ton Master
I’ve been lured to sailing since I was a teenager. Now, after 30,000 miles at sea—mostly at the helm of sailing vessels from three-masted Tall Ships to Hobie Cats—I still feel the excitement that grabbed me over 50 years ago. Most days and miles under billowing sails have been glorious. Some not so much.
Broken rudders, forestays, shrouds, or torn sails during Atlantic or Pacific storms have had their sobering effect. Why am I still drawn to the sea? The answer is simple: I teach ocean and inland sailing, plus the skills of traditional piloting and navigating by the stars. That’s exciting!
I got my first license in 2003 to be able to teach sailing after retirement from the U.S. State Department. I obtained that license via the Baltimore Community College where CAPCA past-president Mary Ann DeGraw was one of my excellent instructors. My 100-ton Master license, including STCW International, came a year later. Training via the Military Sealift Command helped greatly. How do I use my license? Aside from chartering my own Island Packet 440, I have worked as crew, mate, or captain on six different Tall Ships. They included the Schooner American Spirit and the two brigantines of the Los Angeles Maritime Institute (LAMI), where I finished up as first mate on the Brigantine Irving Johnson. For over twelve years, I have also served as instructor (ocean, coastal, inland) on various Island Packet cutters of the Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship (MDSS). My aim is to keep traditional seamanship skills alive — be it during Atlantic crossings or in the Bay.
How do I keep mentally and physically fit? The answer includes training, training, and, again, training. Here, CAPCA continuing education and training courses have been invaluable to me. Over the years, I have taken virtually every course offered. And since I train would-be mariners at all levels in waters between 17°N and Nova Scotia and between 64°W and the Gulf of Mexico and off California, I can say that my teaching has been enhanced and my mind has stayed sharper because of relevant courses our CAPCA directors of education and training have put together for us.