Volunteer profile: Captain Kelly Esser November 24, 2015

More than 50 students from New River Middle School’s Marine Science Magnet Program got a rare firsthand look at the workings of a megayacht at this year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

The experience was courtesy of the efforts of Capt. Kelly Esser, who led them on tours of M/Y Cheers 46 and taught them about careers in the yachting industry. Esser, a Fort Lauderdale native, also arranged for Benetti and other sponsors to donate gift bags for the students to take as a souvenirs.

He also gave them advice about getting good grades, working hard in school and answered the students’ questions. That advice was particularly relevant because among the students taking the tour was Esser’s own daughter. When asked how they could ever own a boat like that, he explained that the owners built companies by working hard and showing dedication.

“They had a dream. They worked toward a goal and made it a reality,” Esser said he told the students, in addition to opportunities to work on the boat. “If you work hard and put your mind to it you can do anything. All the kids left with the idea that they could own a boat like that, that it could be theirs someday if you put your head down and follow your dream.”

Esser, who went to Fort Lauderdale High School, started his career in the local marine industry working on the Jungle Queen and other dinner boats. He then got his captain’s license and started working for Cape Ann Marine Towing in Fort Lauderdale before moving on to various yachts by the age of 21. “Kids don’t understand all the opportunities out there,” he said.

In addition to working on boats in numerous boat shows, Esser, 34, has volunteered with the Winterfest Boat Parade every year since he was 17 either driving or tugboat towing. On weekends, Esser frequently takes his family down to the house they own in Stiltsville.

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