Our Crew of Sailing Staff and Instructors

We're not a school driven by the past accomplishments of a single sailor, but instead we build upon the tradition, spirit and experience of Northwest Sailors and sailing instructors.  Over the past 36+ years, Island Sailing's instructors and staff have created a legacy of Northwest sailing training, with each generation of sailors challenging and advancing the next. 

And, in the process we indulge our passion for sailing by sailing with you.

Capt. Alan Somervell

Alan Somvervell USCG Captain ASA Instructor Director of Operations Island Sailing

Operations Director & Lead Instructor, Waterman

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Josh Shenkman

Josh Program Director

Program Director, Gentleman Sailor

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Josh has worked with literally thousands of sailors, coordinated hundreds of sailing programs from Portland to Seattle, and prepped more boats than most sailors do in a lifetime. Josh knows more about sailors, and what makes a good sailor, than most sailors profess to know about themselves.

Or, as Josh explains, “I could care less if you’re a sailor, doctor, astronaut or garbage man. There is so much that sailing has to offer beyond your first sail. If you’re going to invest your extra time into sailing, then you should understand what it means to be a part of the community. Feel at home, bring your friends down and dip your feet in the water all summer long.”

AJ Brannan

Kirkland Fleet & Program Manager

More info to come....

Capt. Stephen Frankland

USCG Stephen Frankland Instructor

Senior Instructor, Heavy Weather Sailing Expert, Performance Sailor

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Capt. Nat Powning

Nat Powning USCG Captain Island Sailing ASA Instructor

Instructor, Racer

More info to come....

Capt. John & Kathleen Salinas

Capt. John and Kathleen Salinas, USCG ASA Instructors, Pearson 43-foot sloop, Alethea

Instructors, San Juan Charters

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Sailing has been a part of John and Kathleen’s life for decades. They began sailing a Catalina 15-foot skiff, quickly graduated to a Catalina 22-foot keel boat and now rank among the top sailing instructors in the Northwest.

John holds a USCG Masters 100-ton license with sail certification and is an active member of the USCG Auxiliary. His specialties include weather, navigation, seamanship, communication, and leadership. He enjoys the physical, mechanical, and navigational challenges in sailing. John is a physical scientist in limnology, astronomy, chemistry and physics education.

Kathleen has certifications for instruction through the ASA for Keelboat, Coastal Cruising and Bareboat. She is an educator specializing in the natural environment. Kathleen enjoys cruise planning which includes provisioning, route plotting; wind, tide and current forecasting, and safety afloat. Preparing delightful meals is another of her passions.

Capt. Darroch Cahen

Darroch Cahen USCG Captain Island Sailing ASA Instructor

Instructor, Oregon Offshore Trainer

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I am a USCG Licensed 50 Ton Master/Mate and an ASA Certified keel boat instructor.

I grew up sailing on Lake Washington, Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands aboard my parents Kettenburg PC a 32 ft. racing boat and later earned my USCG License in San Diego through the Maritime Institute. I taught sailing at Seaforth in San Diego and I am now back up in Portland, Oregon teaching at Island Sailing Club.

Capt. Harold Crawford

Harold Crawford USCG Captain Island Sailing ASA NauticEd Instructor

Instructor, USCG Captain, Wilderness EMT

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Captain Harold started sailing as a “lake sailor” in Texas about 40 years ago. When he came to the Portland area in the late 1980s, he found the mountains and inland waterways irresistible, so naturally he began climbing the mountains and sailing the waters. He started his serious sailing career as a member of Island Sailing Club, worked his way though the ASA class progression to Advanced Coastal Cruising and ASA Instructor School. He especially enjoys introducing aspiring new sailors to the joys and sciences of sailing. And he served as commodore to the ISC Cruising Group for several years.

Harold likes sailing because the wind is free, the sails are quiet, and the company is congenial. And sailing is a never-ending source of fascination to him. As a professional engineer, he is interested in the mechanics of the vessel; as an amateur meteorologist, he is absorbed by the weather; and as a serious navigator, he likes to know where he is and where he is going. Capt. Harold believes that, with apologies to Thoreau, “The swiftest traveler is he who goes afloat, for he goes the farthest in the shortest distance.”

Harold’s idea of a good vacation is to charter a well-found vessel and visit new ports in interesting waters with good friends and an ample supply of red wine.

Capt. Kristin Pederson

Kristin Pederson USCG Captain Island Sailing ASA Instructor

Instructor, Delivery Captain, Seattle Center for Wooden Boats

More info to come....

Capt. Dave Spencer

David Spencer USCG Captain Island Sailing ASA Instructor

Instructor, San Juan & British Columbia Captain

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Teaching people how to sail is a wonderful and rewarding experience! Seeing their smiles as the wind fills the sails and the boat accelerates under wind power is exhilarating. I started boating in my youth and became an avid boater. In 1980 I sailed in the beautiful San Juan Islands with experienced sailing friends. After that I was hooked on sailing. I took sailing classes from Island Sailing in Portland OR. Later I completed my Captain, US Coast Guard License and American Sailing Association (ASA) certification to teach sailing. My ASA sailing certifications enable me to teach Basic ASA 101 through Advanced Coastal ASA 106 plus docking and powerboat.

Learning to tune the sail to gain maximum performance and steering the boat to keep the telltales flying is rewarding experience for others and myself. By learning to sail I was able to adventure to new places such as the Whitsunday Islands in Australia, Ionian Islands in Greece, Chesapeake Bay, Hawaii and the Great Lakes plus many trips within the San Juan, Gulf Islands, Desolation Sound, West Coast Vancouver Island, Alaska, to San Francisco and from Hawaii to Sequim, Washington.

Currently I take charters on our own boat a 42’ Beneteau in the San Juan Islands and British Columbia. I teach sailing on the Columbia River, San Juan Islands and British Columbia. I look forward to teaching you how to sail so you can achieve your dreams and gain the joy and love of sailing.

Comments from prior sailing students: • “Really appreciated Dave’s calm manner and informative, patient teaching method”• “Dave is a great instructor and we learned many things from him”• “Thanks, Dave was an excellent Instructor”

Steve Huserik

ASA Instructor


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Steve has been sailing on the Columbia River since the early '80'swhen he bought his first sailboat; a brand new Laser! He currently is an active racer within the Olsen 30 fleet out of Astoria, Oregon.

Steve strives to help students build a sailing style that is both conservative and polite.

He spent last Fall with Island Sailing developing the framework for our Saturday Coaching Sessions and has made great connections with students along the way!

Larry Brandt

Larry Brandt Instructor and Starpath Author

Senior Instructor, Navigation & Radar Expert, Starpath Instructor

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Dave Wilkinson

Dave Wilkinson ASA Starpath Island Sailing Instruction

Marine Meteorologist, Sea Grant & Senior Instructor

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Dave got his start at Island Sailing Club over a decade ago. Since then he has built an impressive sailing resume with charters in Mexico, the Caribbean, Maine, New Zealand, and throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Dave has a Masters in Atmospheric Sciences from Oregon State University where he used his knowledge of wind in complex terrain to find wind power sites along the Oregon Coast and Columbia River Gorge. He uses his understanding of weather to make his sailing safer and more enjoyable. He now shares this talent at ISC as a certified ASA Instructor for the ASA Marine Weather Endorsement class, Intro to Weather class and Heavy Weather instruction.

Capt. Paul Sammons

Paul Sammons USCG Captain Island Sailing Instructor

Senior Instructor, Docking Expert, Environmental Sustainability Expert

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“I grew up around Puget Sound and started sailing on a Lightning in the early 60’s. I fell in love with the sport immediately! A mixture of day sailing, cruising, and racing on boats from Lasers to a 45’ ketch constituted my sea time on Puget Sound & Lake Washington. I’ve sailed catamarans & dinghies in Mexico, Hawaii and Florida.”

Paul got his ASA Instructor Rating in 1984 from Rob McLeod – one of the original developers of the American Sailing Association, his USCG License in 1987. He has taught for sailing clubs, yacht leasing companies, college courses, city parks programs, and summer camps between Portland and the San Juan Islands.

He enjoys teaching the skills & techniques that show students’ “how to manage the boat . . . rather than being managed by the boat”. “I’ve always felt so fortunate to be a sailing instructor, because it’s a bit like Santa Claus – “gifting” knowledge, confidence & joy to your students. These gifts can endure and grow throughout a lifetime of delight on the water. Let’s go sailing!”

Capt. Steve Martin

Steve Martin USCG Captain Island Sailing ASA Instructor

Senior Instructor, BVI/Gulf Island Captain, Phd Marine Biologist

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The sailing bug bit Steve several years ago while commuting in a typical heavy hot summer afternoon rush hour across the I-90 bridge. While stopped in traffic, he looked out on beautiful Lake Washington, and saw all the sails up and became determined from that time on to learn to sail and “join the fleet”!

After taking several ASA classes, he took an ASA Advanced Coastal Cruising course in the British Virgin Islands and decided there and then that he wanted to sail there every winter and become an ASA instructor. In 2004, Steve became certified to teach Basic Keelboat and is now certified to teach Basic Coastal Cruising and Bareboat Chartering. He is a USCG licensed captain and teaches at ISC’s Kirkland and Olympia facilities. He also sails the BVIs most every winter. Aargh, matey!

Capt. Steve Barber

Steve Barber USCG Captain Island Sailing ASA Instructor

 Instructor Evaluator, BVI's Captain

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After delivering several boats from the Bahamas to Annapolis and back again to the Bahamas the past two seasons, Steve has been busy teaching ASA classes in Annapolis, MD, Olympia, WA , Belize, CA and Portland, OR while waiting for the hurricane season to diminish, then back to the southern latitudes of USVI, Spanish Virgins, St. Croix, and the BVI’s.

Steve holds a USCG Captain’s license, ASA Instructor credentials through Advanced Coastal and is an ASA Instructor Evaluator.

When not teaching in the Northwest, you’ll find Steve in the BVI’s skippering friends, students and charters on “Mari’s Leonardo” – a 44’ Fountaine Pajot Orana catamaran.  If interested in joining Steve in the BVI’s, please check-out his site Cat About Charters.

Capt. Laura Richter

Laura Richter USCG Captain Island Sailing ASA Instructor

Instructor, BVI Captain, Junior Sailing Instructor

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Captain Laura Richter has been in the sailing industry for over 8 years. She has been teaching at Island Sailing Club for 2 years. While Captain Richter is originally from Portland, Oregon she spent almost a decade in the U.S. Virgin Islands. While living there she gladly fell into the water sports industry – working on day sail charters to the B.V.I, becoming certified to teach sailing and eventually receiving a USCG Captain’s License. She has years of experience working with adults as well as children on anything from windsurfers to dinghies to keelboats. She also led the children’s sailing programs for the St. Thomas Yacht Club and has participated in several International Regattas throughout the Caribbean.

Capt. Jenn Thompson

Jenn Thompson USCG Captain Island Sailing ASA Instructor

Instructor, Portland Racer

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Sailing and I fell in love with each other in 2010 after only a few outings on the Columbia River. Immediately, I was drawn to racing for the team dynamics and also as a way to hone my new found skills. I am an active member of the Portland sailing community and you can typically find me out on the water, either racing, cruising or instructing, more days than not.

A few years ago I took advantage of a life course adjustment, got my captain's license and ASA certification in 2014, and have enjoyed sharing my love of sailing ever since!

Capt. Larry Jackson

Island Sailing Instructor

Instructor, BVI and Gulf Island Captain

More info to come....

Renny DeAssiss

Island Sailing Instructor


More info to come...

De Henderson

De Henderson, Island Sailing General Manager

Director & General Manager

More info to come....

In memory of Dave Chance

David Chance, Island Sailing Staff

Able-Seaman, Olympia Fleet Manager

David Chance Memorial >


Schmoopy, ship's cat and good luck

In Loving Memory of our beloved...
Ship's Cat

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Cats have been part of sailing for upwards of 9,000 years - catching rodents while offering companionship and camaraderie to sailors. Amongst superstitious sailors, cats are believed to possess powers to predict weather, protect ships, and bestow good luck on 'their' crew....

Schmoopy adopted Island Sailing many years ago, and she's a 'special kind of special' ship's cat. Schmoopy excels at giving (and receiving) an abundance of affection to Island Sailing sailors. And possibly, with each belly or head scratch comes a lot of luck....