Membership - American Sail Training Association

Society of Professional Sailing Ship Masters

Announcing The Next Meeting of the Society of Professional Sailing Ship Masters (SPSSM)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

1300-1700 - Professional Development for the Advancing Mariner and Masters
Munson Room, GW Blunt White Building
(#54 on map)
Mystic Seaport
75 Greenmanville Avenue
Mystic, CT 06355

Park at the North Lot and walk across the street toward the North Entrance. Someone will be stationed at the gate near the building.


1730-2100- Dutch Treat Dinner and Socializing
Riverwalk Restaurant
14 Holmes Street
Mystic, CT 06355 

A letter form Capt Dan Moreland, acting President:

Dear Cap',

In the 1980's some of us New England sailing ship skippers got together and formed into the Society of Professional Sailing Ship Masters (SPSSM, aka "Spasm"). With all sorts of fine bodies being convened to do good works or contrive to have their voices heard such as ASTA, the Council of Sailing School Vessels and so forth, we thought that it would be a fine thing for us to get together too, to speak among ourselves of those things that concerned us most. It seemed that we might weigh in formally on certain subjects from time to time, if conditions demanded, but that certainly there would be great value in simply getting to know each other better and sharing our experiences and perspectives. Many of us felt that as we became more involved and committed to command that we were less and less in the company of our peers. We were becoming more isolated in our own organizations perhaps - the loneliness of command - and  that this was a thing to turn around for our collective benefit, and effectively for our vessels and operations as well.

Many fine skippers were in our group. The captains of WESTWARD, CORWITH CRAMER, ERNESTINA, TE VEGA, WESTERN UNION, SPIRIT OF MASSACHUSETTS, ELISSA, PIONEER and others were among us. We met about twice a year at some pleasant venue; S.E.A. hosted us once, as did Mystic Seaport, the Ernestina offices, as well as other good spots. We had criteria for joining and membership (at least a 100 ton ticket and a year of command time) but others were welcomed to join in. We had a fine burgee too. We debated almost endlessly about what to call ourselves - we came up with SPSSM; so dignified when spoken or spelled out, a bit comical when pronounced as an acronym - just perfect we concluded - heaven forbid we take ourselves too seriously.

Our meetings often had a speaker on a subject of keen interest to us (licensing, insurance, jobs around the country and world, best and worst tall ship ports, etc).  Our meetings had some formal structure and content, usually took most of a day, and were followed by repairing to some eatery for general hanging out. The formal parts were valuable but so absolutely were the informal socializing where we could all speak with great candor. Each meeting was different, and we made the rules up as we went along. What came of this was a strengthened sense of purpose and an enriched notion of our collective resources as mariners - it was really good to be part of SPSSM. Basically it was a good time had by all.

We had elected Armin Elssasaer (Captain of the Pride of Baltimore) as our President. As Vice President I had organized our last meeting without Armin present, as he was at sea in his ship. We had no way of knowing that our last meeting was on the day that PRIDE was knocked down and sunk. As you might imagine this knocked the stuffing out of us. As the VP of SPSSM, I never organized another meeting.

Until now: As a final act as the VP (and thus acting President) of SPSSM (circa 1986) I would like to formally 'step down' as said VP, and do so by "Calling the Next Meeting of SPSSM", after all these years. The reasons for the existence of this society have done nothing but grow and mature in the last 24 years. Informative, self improving, networking, perspective, strengthening, enjoyable and downright fun to get together are all reasons to carry on.


With dedication to our craft, and with fond memories of our friend, colleague and brother of the coast Captain Armin Elssasaer, his fine schooner, the PRIDE OF BALTIMORE and her crew: fair winds and clean diesel...

Daniel Moreland
Master ~ Barque PICTON CASTLE

  • Criteria for Attendance:  100 ton or greater master’s license
  • Criteria for Voting Membership: 100 ton or greater master’s license, and One Year of Active Command in sailing ships
  • Also welcome: “post-active” or retired sailing ship masters
  • There is no fee to attend.  The evening portion will include a "dutch treat" dinner and cash bar.

Directions to the Riverwalk:

From RI:
South on 95. Take exit 90. Take a left at the end of the ramp onto Route 27 going south. Follow Route 27 to the third stop light. Turn right onto Holmes Street. The RiverWalk is on the left.

From New Haven/New London:
North on 95: Take exit 89 (Allyn St.) turn right at the end of the exit, follow Allyn St. throught the blinking light. The next stop light turn left onto Main St. Follow Main St. through downtown Mystic. Proceed over the drawbridge and turn left at the flagpole onto Holmes St. The RiverWalk is on the right at the end of the first block.

Suggested Accommodations

  Register to Attend  

return to main schedule

Tall Ships America • 221 3rd St., Bldg. 2, Ste. 101• Newport, RI 02840 USA • (401) 846-1775 •