GoAbroad Interview

Ben Diamond - Captain, Dive Instructor, & Marine Scientist

A England native, Ben didn’t get his first taste of the sea until after graduating from university. He has since developed a love for the ocean and all marine life. Ben has an RYA Yachtmaster Ocean certificate and is a cruising instructor. Ben’s certification as a PADI Dive Instructor led him back to school for his degree in marine science. He now works as a Captain, Dive Instructor, and Marine Scientist for Sea|mester.

You’re from Manchester, England, how did you get connected with Sea|mester?

A few years ago I left a job in marine policy to follow a dream and go sailing. At the time, I was delivering small yachts all over the world. I saw an advertisement for a summer job with Sea|mester’s sister company, ActionQuest. They wanted a captain who could help teach marine science; perfect, it brought my two worlds together. After a couple of summers with ActionQuest, I moved on to Sea|mester’s 88 foot schooner, Ocean Star.

Teaching students on a boat

Dive theory

What does a day in the life of Sea|mester’s Captain look like?

We eat breakfast at 7:00 a.m., lunch at 12:00 p.m., and dinner at 6:00 p.m. That is the only constant for a day in Sea|mester. 

We haul on the halyards, raise the anchor, and set sail for new islands. We hike up volcanoes, and dive on shipwrecks and coral reefs. We make jewellery. We go explore, teach in the schools, and dance with the local communities. We go to class, sometimes that’s in a 17th century fort or in a French cafe. We see whales breach and turtles nest. We oil the teak or splice lines. We wash dishes. We cook. We do everything together.   

My typical day as a captain is very similar to that of the rest of Sea|mester’s crew. One of the best things about Sea|mester is that everyone aboard gets involved with every single aspect of running a boat. The students soon learn to skipper the boat themselves.

Reviewing marine research documents


How do your RYA Yachtmaster Ocean, RYA cruising instructor, and PADI Dive Instructor certificates aid you in your role with Sea|mester?

These are fantastic qualifications and a great foundation to build upon. They ensure that there is consistency across the world in terms of how things are taught. This is particularly important for students who may begin to sail or dive with us, but then want to continue learning elsewhere. They can pick up from where they left off.

You’ve logged more than 35,000 sea miles in your journeys across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, what’s your favorite area to sail?

The thing I love about sailing is that everything is always changing. Sometimes I want to drop anchor and swim ashore to a remote island, other times I want to sail up river straight into the heart of a city. Wherever you go, there is always something amazing to find. Maybe when I find my favorite area I’ll stop traveling so much. 

Getting food from a buffet

Dinner time

Are you able to bring in any of you work with coral reefs programs to the academic side of the Sea|mester voyage?

We work with the marine park rangers in St. Lucia to conduct coral reef surveys in the Soufriere Marine Management Area. This management area was created back in 1992 to address the many issues affecting users of marine and coastal resources in Soufriere. Monitoring reef health helps managers make effective decisions, but it also helps to build local and international support for the program when there is evidence that it is working. For Sea|mester’s students, they get to apply what they have learned in the classroom and give something back to the local community.

You have a master’s degree in marine science. What knowledge and skills from your degree do you use most often in your job?

Again, I love to apply stuff. I try to incorporate oceanography with sailing or marine biology with diving. The great thing about these two hobbies is that the more you know about currents, or how the wind blows, or what fish you are looking at, the more fun they become. 

What’s the best tip you could give a Sea|mester student on day one of their voyage?

You’ve just arrived. Everything seems extremely different. You feel that everyone has more experience or knowledge than you. They don’t. At this point everything is new to everybody. So don’t hold back. Get involved in everything right from the start.

Sailboat ride at sunrise

Sunrise sail

What has been your biggest achievement since joining the Sea|mester team

Becoming a passenger. Shipmates generally arrive with either no or very little sailing experience. They quickly get to the point where they can work together to skipper, navigate and crew the vessel on their own. That is a fantastic feeling. 

What is the best part about working for Sea|mester?

The diversity. The people, the activities, the weather, the boat. Everything is always changing. Sea|mester is an adventure.