When you are sailing, the feeling and sounds of the wind, water, and the warm sunshine touching your face somehow force you ever so gently to let go. It’s my one and only place where I can just…be.
To say that sailing is one of our company’s favorite pastimes would be an understatement. We are huge fans of Classic Harbor Line, their captains, and crew.
Over the years we’ve had the great opportunity to meet and get to know the Captains of their fleet. This season we wanted to share our one-on-one interviews with some of CHL female captains
Meet Captain Kat.
DTM: How did you get started in this line of work and where are you from?
Capt Kat: I taught sailing on 24- 50 ft boats. I grew up in Seattle and moved to New York after college.
DTM: What brought you to CHL?
Capt Kat: Adirondack has been the prettiest boat in the Harbor since 1999. One of my colleagues from teaching sailing was the full-time captain and another colleague got hired as a relief captain and asked me if I wanted to sail Adirondack too. This is back when Adirondack was the only boat CHL (before it was CHL) had in New York. I have been one of Adirondack’s captains since 2006.
DTM: What type of education or updated education are you given with CHL?
Capt Kat: We do safety training once a month and have checklists and training for the crew to advance to first mates and captains.
DTM: What is your favorite thing about working for CHL in New York,
share one of your most memorable/rewarding moment?
Capt Kat: New York Harbor is a beautiful and challenging place to sail. It is rewarding to feel the boat spring to life with a lovely breeze and see the joy in our guest’s faces as we sail by stunning views of NYC powered only by wind and current (when conditions allow).
DTM: Have you ever raced or sailed the ocean?
Capt Kat: Yes. I like sailing places I’ve never been to before and take my vacations sailing in locations all over the world.
DTM: Do you ever get bored with sailing the same route?
Capt Kat: No. For me, the challenge of being under sail for as much of the trip as possible, the changing current and wind conditions, and having to get to the Statue and back in the allotted time all combine to create essentially a game of chess. It’s different every time.
DTM: What makes a good captain?
Capt Kat: An awareness of the overall safety of the vessel, crew, and guests.
DTM: Is there a difference being a captain for sailing vessel vs motor yachts?
Capt Kat: Not really, you have the same responsibility for the safety of the vessel and all on board. For me, the sailboat is much more fun because of the challenge of getting the boat to move with only the power of the wind and current. It’s a combination of science and art.
DTM: What’s the last thing you do on your ship before you depart for the day?
Capt Kat: At the end of the day, the last thing I do is check the dock lines.
DTM: Because we are Downtown Magazine, what is your favorite place in Lower Manhattan Chelsea to the Battery to just get away and relax?
Capt Kat: I love lower Manhattan. My favorite sculpture is the WTC Sphere. I loved it in its original location, bringing humanity to the tall towers. It spoke to my heart standing damaged but still strong in Battery Park. And now in Liberty Park, it still brings tears, but also a path forward.
DTM: Tips, I’m all about tips for the crew its very important to show your gratitude, they work so hard in such a short time, why is it important to tip?
Capt Kat: Our crew is amazing. For me to maneuver the boat under sail, the crew must man the sails. We are sailing the boat as a team. They have an awareness of the safe operation of the vessel while also chatting with guests and serving drinks.
DTM: What’s is the best advice to give new captains when working with the public?
Capt Kat: If you have joy in your job sailing the boat, chances are the guests will also enjoy sailing.
Captain Kat’s Bio
Katrina van Zee, aka Captain Kat, is a captain for Classic Harbor Line, sailing in New York Harbor for over a decade. She holds a United States Coast Guard (USCG) 100-ton Master License with a sailing endorsement and is a U.S. Sailing Certified Instructor at Basic Keelboat, Cruising and Coastal Navigation levels. In the off-season she enjoys sailing in places she’s never been before; favorites include Sea of Hebrides, Baltic Sea, and the Gulf of Thailand.
Classic Harbor Line is the operating company of the Schooners Adirondack & America 2.0 and the Luxury Yachts Manhattan, Manhattan II & Kingston of Chelsea Piers. Operating sightseeing trips on New York waters since 1999, Classic Harbor Line specializes in bringing beautiful, classic-style vessels to the New York City waterways and creating special and memorable excursions.
Our Crew, including all captains, mates, chefs, and on-land representatives at Classic Harbor Line, is what makes the experience on our beautiful yachts truly magical. We have maintained a consistent history of not only operating with professional staff but also with warm and inviting hosts. You will, without a doubt, have fantastic views of the city and find the boats beautiful and comfortable, but what will surprise you and stay with you when you leave is the warm and special treatment you receive from our extraordinary team.