"Boating is a culture around here. I have found that the weekend boaters, die-hard boaters, and even the yacht clubbers tend to be inclusive. When we meet up on the water, it's a welcome, friendly environment. Add in sun, sparkling water, and a comfortable vessel with the amenities to entertain, and you have a mini vacation on a blue collar dime." ~ Captain Julie
I've spent most of my life in the service of others. The charter business is the logical next step for me. From my first paying job as a "newsie" peddling papers for the Detroit News, to firefighter, which led me to Safety/Security Officer at Boyne Mountain, I've always been attracted to service with adventure. I found myself in some great jobs, gaining experience but always coming home to Grosse Ile, my family and friends, and the river. I had a variety of boats over these years, improving and growing from boat to boat. Operating my lawn care service on the island for the last 27 years, along with 25 years on the Grosse Ile Police Reserves retiring as Captain, I was ready for a new adventure.
Boat Captain. Why didn't I ever pursue that? After taking the job of Animal Control Officer with Grosse Ile Police Department in 2011, I decided to go for my Captains License through the certification process of the United States Coast Guard. It was tough. I was confident in my practical abilities in boat handling, but learning chart navigation, the Rules of the Road, deck safety and new material in general was going to be necessary. I took a week vacation from work and got into a week long course to cram for the test. I was so proud to achieve this. But now what?
In the late winter/early spring of 2016, I reached out to Jim Hogan, fourth generation owner of the J.W. Westcott Company. Jim's great grandfather, John Ward Westcott, started the business in 1874. The 2018 season will be their 145th year of operation! I wanted to join this team. I had met Jim over the past few years of participation in the International Freedom Festival Annual Tugboat race on the Detroit River. My crew and I from the RedWing, would meet up on shore before and after the race with fellow captain and crew, and Jim was always involved and approachable. Well after some pestering on my part, he took me on at Westcott. I had the honor and pleasure to work with multiple Captains while training for the job. The GM, Captain Sam Buchanan, told me early on to not be disappointed if I couldn't get it. You see, the job requires driving into a moving freighter and holding position while mail, freight, and/or groceries, and crew are delivered. The opposite of logic and rationale for any seafarer, "hit that boat". With guidance and plenty of time and patience, I was able to make the cut, becoming a part of their history. They are the best group I've had the honor to work with. Due to my connections through this job, I was recently accepted into the International Shipmaster's Association, Lodge 7 Detroit, a group of professional mariners working towards creating a safer and more informed waterway system. Navigation safety, professional support, and assisting those preparing for careers as merchant marine officers are just some of the ways ISMA affects the maritime community.
I've been so fortunate to do what I love in my careers. I have always been an entrepreneur and pride myself in my service to others. The river is accessible to everyone. Ducky Baby Charters is one way to get you closer.
I'm so glad to be the one that gets to take you there!