Called to the sea

Colin Carter of Stephenvil­le fol­lowed his fa­ther’s foot­steps to be­come Marine At­lantic cap­tain

The Western Star - - CLOSE TO HOME - Jeremy Fraser [email protected]­post.com Twit­ter: @CBPost_Jeremy

Day 1 in a three-day se­ries mark­ing 120 years of ferry con­nec­tion be­tween Cape Bre­ton and N.L.

Colin Carter knew from a young age he wanted to make a liv­ing on the sea.

In fact, he spent many hours on the wa­ter as a child be­cause his fa­ther was a cap­tain for Marine At­lantic, be­fore mov­ing on to op­por­tu­ni­ties with larger com­pa­nies.

“My un­cles were cap­tains as well,” Carter said. “There was a lot of seago­ing peo­ple in my fam­ily and that re­ally in­spired me in my ca­reer.”

As the years went on, it was clear Carter would work on a boat. His dream of be­ing a cap­tain be­came a real­ity with Marine At­lantic in 2010.

“In this in­dus­try, you can re­ally go all over the world and there’s lots of work,” Carter said. “I liked the idea of work­ing with Marine At­lantic be­cause it was closer to home, and the re­lief sys­tem was re­ally good.”

Carter, who lives in Stephenvil­le, said there were many rea­sons why he wanted to stay closer to home and not travel long dis­tances for work.

“I was start­ing a young fam­ily and I re­ally wanted to be closer to them,” Carter said.

Carter, 43, isn’t the only ac­tive cap­tain in his fam­ily. His brother, Chris, also works as a cap­tain with Marine At­lantic; how­ever, the two have never cap­tained to­gether.

Over the past eight years, Carter has had many mem­o­rable mo­ments as a cap­tain.

In March 2011, he helmed the fi­nal cross­ing of the MV Joseph and Clara Small­wood from Port aux Basques to North Syd­ney.

The Small­wood and Cari­bou were re­placed that year by the MV High­landers and MV Blue Put­tees, two of Marine At­lantic’s cur­rent four ves­sels.

He says the big­gest ad­just­ment to the new ves­sels was get­ting used to han­dling them.

“We were the first ones go­ing on these ships and we didn’t re­ally have any­one to train us, so we had to get a feel for it,” Carter ex­plained.

An­other chal­leng­ing part of be­ing a cap­tain is mak­ing the de­ci­sion whether or not to sail in in­clement weather.

“We mainly look at the fore­cast, and if it looks like the winds could get up too high where we don’t think we would be able to get into dock, we make the de­ci­sion to can­cel the sail­ing,” Carter said. “The cap­tains will talk to each other and dis­cuss the weather and de­cide from there if a sail­ing can hap­pen. If you have two ex­pe­ri­enced skip­pers, they might de­cide to have a cross­ing if it’s bor­der­line.” Carter has a wife and two sons. “(My sons) have been on the boat be­fore — it was nice let­ting them see what I do,” Carter said.

His 14-year-old son has al­ready said he wants to be a cap­tain like his fa­ther one day.

“It would be in­ter­est­ing to be able to work side by side with him,” Carter said.

JEREMY FRASER/CAPE BRE­TON POST

MV High­landers Capt. Colin Carter of Marine At­lantic looks into the dis­tance dur­ing an Aug. 7 af­ter­noon cross­ing be­tween North Syd­ney and Port aux Basques. Carter, who lives in Stephenvil­le, has been a cap­tain with Marine At­lantic for the past eight years.

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