Blair reappointed to Harbormasters Training Council

Edgartown harbormaster collaborates with colleagues to standardize the profession.

Edgartown harbormaster Charlie Blair is sworn in Thursday as a member of the Harbormaster Training Council by First Assistant Superior Court Clerk Paula Berube-Devaney — his second appointment to the council.

Edgartown harbormaster Charlie Blair was sworn in again as a member of the Harbormasters Training Council at the Dukes County Superior Courthouse Thursday morning by First Assistant Clerk Paula Berube-Devaney.

Gov. Charlie Baker recently reappointed Blair to the council, which consists of 11 harbormasters and representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, Massachusetts Environmental Police, and State Police.

The Harbormaster Training Council, which meets monthly at various ports, exists to train and develop training for harbormasters. Blair joined in 2016 as one of two Cape and Islands representatives. Falmouth harbormaster Gregg Fraser is the other.

The council has been evaluating different aspects of training for some time, and will soon be able to produce courses to standardize harbormaster certification, Blair said.

“We’re 99.9 percent finished with the job,” council vice chairman and Rockport co-harbormaster Rosemary Lesch said.

Tapping teaching talent for courses designed for the Harbormasters Training Council by UMass Boston’s Urban Harbors Institute is the only remaining hurdle, Lesch said. The courses made by the Urban Harbors Institute are a three-part harbormaster laws course, a marine medical emergencies course, a private aids to navigation course, and a marine theft and marine documentation course.

Along with police training, general harbormaster training, and captain’s training, the new curriculum will be offered up à la carte, according to council chairman Chad Hunter, Plymouth harbormaster. “You’re able to do it as you can, depending on your schedule,” he said.

Kristin Uiterwyk, director of the Urban Harbors Institute, said students from an instructional design course were among those who helped develop the courses. “It was a positive experience from our end,” she said.

In addition to its work with council, Uiterwyk said Urban Harbors Institute is currently consulting on-Island with the town of Tisbury about revisions to its waterways regulations.

Hunter said harbormasters used to receive their posts at the discretion of local government without any uniform metrics to judge candidates by. In standardizing harbormaster training and providing credentials upon completion of that training, the council is hoping to break from the past.

Blair said he got his credentials from the Massachusetts Harbormaster Academy in 1997.

Hunter described the academy as the 1.0 predecessor of current 2.0 Harbormasters Training Council curriculum. The Massachusetts Harbormasters Association used to run it before pushing for legislation to create the council, which began in 2009, he said. Going forward, some learning will be done online and some at select locations, Blair said.

“This is a huge step forward for us as harbormasters to professionalize,” Hunter said. Hunter said he greatly valued the knowledge and experience Blair brings to the council. He also feels for his commute: “He has the longest commute out of all of us.”

The council isn’t just a forum to share his knowledge, Blair said. “Believe it or not, I’m learning. I’m learning all kinds of stuff.”

He commended Hunter’s leadership at meetings, noting how well-run they are. “He really believes in Robert’s Rules [of Order],” he said.

Blair said he opted to accept reappointment to the council because he wants to help ensure standardization curriculum gets up and running. “I want to see it finished,” he said.