Chesapeake Area Professional Captains Association


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We are a professional organization for Coast Guard-licensed captains who operate primarily on the Chesapeake Bay and the East Coast of the United States.

Although our captains' licenses range from small passenger vessels to oceangoing ships, the bulk of our members operate boats of 100 tons or less—such as tourboats, water-taxis, towboats, and charterboats. Some also work as instructors and delivery captains for transporting recreational boats between ports.


CAPCA Zoom Meeting,  Monday, October 25, 2021, 1845.  Speaker: Captain Louis Novak, "Volunteer Opportunities for Licensed Captains." He's done some interesting things.

ZOOM Web browser link: please do not click on this link until the time of the meeting

CAPCA meetings are being recorded. CLICK HERE to view recordings of past Zoom meetings.

Officer Hamilton Gale

Assistant Vice President

Hamilton Gale

USCG 100-ton Master, Inland

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I grew up in Annapolis on Spa Creek as they say messing around in boats. The first was a wood rowboat with a five-horsepower "Monkey" Ward's Sea King outboard. My dad would take us out to Annapolis Roads to go swimming, and at that time and at that hour or so, it seemed as if we were really going somewhere. Today, of course, the boats are larger and faster and the trip to the Roads takes just a few minutes.

After my father's passing away, I moved to Maine and lived with my uncle, a high school teacher, while attending high school. It was there at I met my future wife, Bonnie.

I joined the Army in 1967 and in 1968 and 1969 I was assigned as a squad leader in the 82nd ABN Division a few miles west of Saigon.

I graduated from the University of Baltimore with a degree in business. Few jobs were available at that time, and I worked at a marine welding shop and later as a sailboat rigger. In 1983 I started Annapolis Yacht Systems, which I owned and operated for some 20 years. It seemed that every time I went out on a boat, I would end up de-grounding or towing someone home as a "Good Sam." When the Reagan administration decided that the Coast Guard could reduce our case load and stop towing vessels in non-emergency situations, it meant private industry could fill the gap and provide towing services. Thus the non-emergency towing industry was born.

I rented a boat from a friend, put a tow bit in it, painted it red and started towing. It was a little "Wild West" for some years, as there were four or five towboats in Annapolis at the time. SeaTow was in its infancy and BoatU.S. supported the Coast Guard Auxiliary, which still provided free towing when it could. Eventually BoatU.S. formed its own towing network and I was fortunate to be one of the first towcaptains to sign up.

I later closed Annapolis Yacht Systems and concentrated on Ann Bay Towing, which did business as TowBoatU.S. Annapolis. The business grew phenomenally over the next few years. We retired the old Retriever and added four boats to our growing business, which was run out of my home on Spa Creek.

Early in the 1980s a few of the towing-assistance captains from around the country met and formed C-Port, a national organization for commercial assistance towing. I served on the board for about 12 years, with one term as president. About the same time five local towers in the Bay Area decided to start their own local association. CMTAA was started and later became a chapter of C-Port. I had the privilege of being its first president and have served as a board member since its inception.

I sold Ann Bay Towing to TowBoatU.S. Baltimore and brought to a close my more than 30 years in the towing and salvage industry.


CAPCA meeting

Join us at our monthly meetings where you can meet our captains, find out more about CAPCA, and hear interesting guest speakers.

Click here for meeting details.

MMC shadowWhy earn a captain's license?

  • use your boat to carry passengers for hire
  • enjoy a discount on marine insurance for your boat
  • required for many full- or part-time maritime jobs
  • acquire a comprehensive knowledge of navigation and rules of the road

Click here to read a description of the process for earning a captain's license.

carrick bendCAPCA Speakers Bureau

Need a speaker for your yacht club or professional organization? Ask one of our Coast Guard-licensed captains.

    After you submit the form, our speaker’s bureau coordinator will get back to you soon.

Our members have a wealth of experience—on the water and in classrooms—that gives them the knowledge and background to provide guest-speaker presentations on a host of maritime-related topics, from seamanship and navigation to radio operation and basic first aid for boaters. Let us know a topic that interests you, and we’ll take it from there.

CAPCA provides this as a public service to the maritime community. There's no speaking fee or charge.

carrick bend