Capt. Shawn Smith pilots a boat for Coast Camp, sponsored by the Department of Marine Science at Savannah State University, on June 21, 2017. (Photo by Jabari Courtney)

Smith answers siren call of sea life

By Jabari Courtney

Capt. Shawn Smith got his first boat when he was 12. It was a gift from a family member.

Smith, a Savannah native, grew up along a marsh. In his neighborhood, boats were like cars. He and his friends used the local transportation for their shenanigans.

“We would get into all types of teenage mischief on the boats,” Smith said.

He loved water and boats, and he followed his passion and became a captain.

Smith worked on a skimmer during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf in 2010. His job was to suck up oil that would eventually be reused. He is now captain of a fleet of boats at Savannah State University.

Smith works with SSU’s Coast Camp, a marine science summer program for middle- and high-schoolers. Students learn about the marsh, dock, and working on a boat. Smith often takes the students for boat rides. He enjoys exposing youth to marine science and hopes they will follow the career path.

Smith hopes to start new courses in SSU’s marine science program. He’d like to teach boating and seamanship.