CONFIDENT APPROACH: J. Kent Dresser, right, president of Confident Captain/Ocean Pros, gives some tips to Calvin Rogers. Dresser makes the most of the quieter winter season by offering land-based training.
When working on the water begins at 14 years old with standing watch for Safe/ Sea, a marine-assistance and boat-towing company, there’s a good chance waterborne roots will take hold and create a lifetime path, and in J. Kent Dresser’s case, a career.
Like all the work connected to the sea that flows through Dresser’s life, his founding of Confident Captain/Ocean Pros in 2003 developed from a clear and direct current, beginning when he was growing up in the North Kingstown village of Wickford.
He became one of the youngest captains in the region when he was 18 years and six days old.
Along his maritime path, he earned a bachelor’s degree in coastal and marine policy from the University of Rhode Island in 1998, continuing to work for Safe/Sea during his college years.
“After college, when I was working on tugs in New York, we had two weeks on and two weeks off. I still lived in Rhode Island and still worked for Safe/Sea,” said Dresser.
“The captain’s training I’m doing now started informally. My experience in rescue boats showed me that recreational boaters needed training in driving their boats, especially in docking,” said Dresser. “So I’d just be at the marinas, showing them how to maneuver their boats and dock.”
The requests for training increased informally until Dresser realized they reached critical mass.
“Finally, in 2003, I decided to quit my job and turn it into a business, training recreational boaters and professional mariners,” said Dresser.
Today, he still works part time as an active senior captain and salvage master for Safe/Sea during the summer months.
Since he launched Confident Captain/Ocean Pros, he makes the most of the quieter winter season by offering land-based training.
“Here, the professional mariners are very busy in summers. They don’t have time for professional development,” said Dresser.
“The training resources in America tend to lend themselves toward big ships. The Coast Guard breaks down their licenses by tonnage and we really focus on the smaller boats,” he said.
“What we’ve seen is a tremendous amount of growth in small boats combing shorelines – first-response boats, fast ferries, security boats and offshore supply. Pilot vessels are very important and play a critical role in keeping transportation going in America,” said Dresser. “The boats may be smaller, but the job is still very big and very important.”
In addition to private, small-boat operators, he trains mariners in all the military services.