Greenwich Harbor's shoreline emerges behind an array of sailboats in the shallow waters of the Long Island Sound. You're in the wheelhouse of the Island Beach ferry and with nothing but sunshine and the wind in your hair, it feels like the top of the world.
Welcome to Capt. C.J. Steen's summer office.
The 21-year-old Greenwich Parks and Recreation employee spends his summer days cruising from Greenwich Harbor to Island Beach or Great Captains Island. This will be Steen's fourth summer working for the town and third year as captain.
"I remember seeing these ferries going in and out everyday and I wanted to stay local and keep working on boats," said Steen.
For most college students, summer is a time to kickback, relax and save up for next semester's party money. Long days and school are two things that are far from thought. But, as one of the youngest captains on staff, Steen is working toward graduating the Massachusetts Maritime Academy with a degree in marine transport and hopes to break into the towing industry.
"Some older passengers will look at me funny because I am young," Steen said. "But once they see how I handle the boat, they know I am qualified."
Like most captains, Steen worked his way up the ladder from a young age. At 13, he began working as a volunteer on a whale watching boat in Gloucester, Mass.
"At the beginning of the summer I was just working for tips," Steen said. " By the end, I was put on the payroll and acquired a lot of knowledge about the ins and outs of boating and that's why I kept going back." He started at the bottom of the barrel doing maintenance work, lines and being the go-to-guy on board. "I wanted to continue working on boats and be out on the water."
In the future, Steen sees himself working on a tugboat in New York City or an equally busy harbor. He graduates in 2011 as a licensed ship's deck officer and will be able to manage and operate positions within petroleum, intermodal and transportation industries. "It's got its moments, but I can't see anything better right now. "
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