While on a floating family outing, Kevin’s son, Lucas, took a swim. As he paddled toward shore to leave the water, something went terribly wrong. Kevin spotted Lucas floating face-down in the water. A faulty electrical system on a nearby vessel sent 120 volts surging into the water, and Kevin lost his son.
“It was a dark couple of years, but all I did was study,” he said. “I had to come to a full understanding of what happened.”
Grief led to his true life’s work. “I’m passionate about marine electronics, and I’m passionate about corrosion,” he said.
Since then, as an investigative consultant, “Working as an investigator, I’ve had lots of occasions where I’ve observed there might not have been a fatality.”
Kevin continues to live aboard, on a custom Monk 38 yacht moored in nearby Port Ludlow.
He’s proud of the program he has rapidly built at the boat school, thanks in large part to his experience as an instructor with the ABYC.
“I feel that because of teaching for ABYC for the years that I did, that this type of instruction was really lacking,” he said. “I call it death by PowerPoint.”
He mentioned an acquaintance who has several certifications, and “I wouldn’t let him touch my lawnmower. I knew there had to be a better way.”
Given his life’s experience and the potential for disaster, Kevin still grapples with the fact that no training is required before anyone goes into business as a marine electrician.
Ramping up the marine systems program has been a rewarding challenge.
“It’s rewarding,” he said. “You get to create something and see how it plays.” Apparently, it plays well. All of the students who sought employment in the field after completion of his first class quickly landed jobs.
Kevin was already familiar with the boat school before the systems program was initiated, since he’s a regular at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival and he’d taught a number of ABYC classes in the area.
“I’ve had this affinity for the boat school for a long time as a place where people take time to do things right,” he said.
Kevin quickly acknowledges that cramming the amount of information contained in the class into six months is intense. If a student misses even a day of instruction, “they’re really going to struggle to catch up.” In addition to an eight-hour instructional day, significant reading is required, and that’s a good thing, he says.
“You’re going to get the book learning you need, but it’s going to be immediately hands-on. When we hook up those lights back there in series and in parallel, you can see their lights go on. I love it. I love it.”
The future? “My hope for this program is we take the foundation we’ve built and continue to improve and improve until we absolutely know it’s the best in the country.”
He’s obviously already on the right track.