Michael Beemer

Michael Beemer is the department chair for Skagit Valley College’s marine maintenance and repair program. Michael has been presenting and teaching professionally for almost 20 years and holds a master’s degree in education. At the college he teaches all the systems courses, including ABYC certifications. He and his wife have cruised extensively from Anacortes to southeast Alaska for many years on their motor-sailer. In the cruising community, Michael is well known as “The Boat Doctor” who can diagnose and fix almost anything on a vessel. Some of the many topics he has done include: diesel engines, electrical systems, solar, new battery technologies, extended inside passage cruising, and more.


Gio & Julie Cappelli<br />

Gio & Julie Cappelli

 Gio & julie are graduates of Skagit Valley College’s Marine Maintenance Technology Program and owners of Pelagic Blue Cruising Services. At Pelagic Blue, they offer private offshore sail training and preparation for aspiring self-sufficient sailors. They teach DIY boat maintenance, plan offshore refits, and provide custom consulting services aimed at preparing their clients for successful cruising. They completed a Mahina offshore sail training expedition with John Neal in the Pacific Northwest and recently returned from a 10,000-mile loop sailing from Mexico to Hawaii, and Hawaii to British Columbia aboard their Malö 39. 


Gio is ABYC certified in Marine Diesel Engines and Marine Systems and previously worked as a fishery biologist and motorboat operator instructor. Julie is ABYC certified in Marine Electrical, a NMEA certified marine electronics and NMEA 2000 installer, and has worked as a scuba instructor, marine biologist, and expedition leader. Both are USCG licensed Masters and are actively cruising.They openly share their wealth of knowledge about the ocean, cruising, and boat maintenance. 


Cruiser's College Instructor Mike Beemer

Mike Reese

Mike is a life-long boater and 30-year veteran of the marine industry. His passion for sailing and powerboating has inspired him to learn as much about boats and marine systems as possible. Mike is a professionally trained Marine Surveyor and Marine Canvas Fabricator. He has seven ABYC Certifications, including Marine Electrical, Corrosion, Systems, Diesel Engines, AC/Refrigeration, and more. In previous roles, Mike has managed sailboat rigging shops and installed & serviced marine systems. He has also worked for many of the industry’s premier manufacturers and suppliers of heating systems, marine hardware, running gear components, and propellers. When not helping his clients, Mike and his wife Linda can be found cruising in Northwest waters on their 40-foot trawler or racing around the buoys on their 30-foot sailboat.

Mike loves sharing his knowledge and passion for boats and hopes to see you soon at one of our many training events.


Captain Margaret Pommert is a popular Pacific Northwest boating instructor, teaching on both sail and power boats. She serves on the Board of Directors of The Sailing Foundation, which developed the Lifesling, and organizes their annual US Sailing International Offshore Safety at Sea with Hands-on Training in Seattle and Portland areas. Margaret chairs the US Sailing Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal Selection and Awards Committee, a national award which recognizes a significant accomplishment in seamanship which has saved a life, and collects case studies in rescues for analysis by the US Sailing Safety-at-Sea Committee. She’s an appointed member of WA State Boating Program Advisory Council, providing recommendations to the program on ways to enhance boating safety statewide for all types of recreational boating. When not working as a skipper/instructor, she’s active in the local boating community, racing, cruising, and promoting Safety at Sea and Northwest Women in Boating.


Mark Bunzel

Mark BunzelContributor, Editor and Publisher of the annual Waggoner Cruising Guide, co-author of Cruising the Virgin Islands, and nautical publisher and distributor at the Waggoner Store. Mark’s boating experience began at the age of 15 and has cruised the Greek Islands, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Honduras, Mexico, Vietnam, and the Chesapeake Bay. Each year, he cruises to Waggoner Guide destinations in the San Juan Islands, Inside Passage and Southeast Alaska. Mark’s work can be found in Power Cruising, Pacific Yachting, Latitudes and Attitudes, Soundings, Dockside, Northwest Yachting Magazine. Mark also teaches seminars at Boat Show University, Fine Edge Nautical Seminars, and Cruiser’s College.

Matt Mardesich

Matt Mardesich is the primary propulsion instructor at Skagit Valley College. Matt has been around the water all his life and still does some commercial fishing when not teaching at the technical school. Matt is an ABYC certified Master Technician and holds certifications in Gasoline/Diesel engines and electrical. Some of the many topics he has done include: diesel engines, gasoline engines, outboard motors, and hydraulics.

Photo John Neal

John Neal

John Neal was born on the banks of Africa’s Blue Nile River. At the age of 22 his love of adventure and travel fueled a desire to sail to the South Pacific from Seattle aboard his 27′ sloop.  John holds a USCG 100 ton Master’s and private pilot License.

When not at sea, John enjoys kayaking, trail running, skiing and camping from my home base on San Juan Island near Victoria, B.C.


Arthur Hebert

Arthur Hebert is a 28 year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard. He served on a wide variety of the Coast Guard ships and participated in many Search and Rescue missions. He holds a 100-ton Master Inland License and is an ABYC Master Tech. He is a part time instructor at Skagit Valley College Marine Trades program and during the summer you can find him on his 30 ft Fisher motor-sailer or working as a checkout skipper for NW Explorations.