Staff Spotlight: Travis Yates

Managing Director and Marine Superintendent


Travis graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 1995 with a degree in Marine Engineering. Always a sailor, Travis competed at both national and international levels, culminating in a bid for the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team in 1996.

Travis holds an MCA/IYT International Master of Ocean Yachts, US Coast Guard Captain’s License and is an Instructor Evaluator for US Sailing. He is also a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and a licensed pilot.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I had the opportunity to travel to Saudi Arabia in my early 20's and it was probably the most eye-opening cultural travel of my life and the SCUBA diving was more amazing than any place I have ever dived.

Being able to travel within a culture that I previously was only informed of by the Western media and culture was transformational in terms of my personal understanding of how similar we really are in this world.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I have worked for Sea|mester and Global Expeditions Group for my whole adult life. Working with, teaching and mentoring students has shaped every aspect of the adult, husband, and father I have become. The community we create aboard is a true family and through years Captianing our voyages I helped create and was positively influenced by every trip I led. I continue to be shaped by the experience I have with students in the operational oversight and management role I provide our voyages.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Since 1998, I have been involved on some level with every student that has sailed with Sea|mester.

The best stories I have all involve Sea|mester being the catalyst for a student to make a huge shift in their trajectory to make the leap to become the person they want to be. From a student who came to us freshly out of dealing with some of life's hardest situations and then wrote to say they were living their dream working in wildlife preservation on an African game preserve. To a student who went on to captain their own small vessel and is looking to work up to being the captain on the Sea|mester vessel they first sailed on, students learn and grow aboard our vessels in a way that they cannot do on a college campus.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would choose to sail on our voyage from Australia to South Africa. Crossing the India Ocean is a monumental achievement and one that most humans cannot easily arrange. The longer ocean passages involved provide great sailing and the islands we visit are remote enough that some don't have scheduled air flights. That is a rarity in the ever-shrinking world.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Our staff is on program 24/7 for up to 90-days when they are running our voyages. I often describe our crews (students and staff) as families and that brings with it all the smiles, laughs and great times that a family goes through. It also means there will be harder days. Days that, if we were not a family, people would not be committed to seeing the hard days through and would not be there 'no matter what' for each other.

Our staff is always there for the students and each other. That is hard! I am proud of our staff every day for their commitment to the ship and her crew.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Compassion, commitment, and professionalism.

In over 20 years of operation, Sea|mester has operated very successfully in the study aboard and gap year industry due to our core commitment to running safe, engaging, transformational and educational experiences worldwide. Our history and experience in the maritime world are unmatched and we continue to grow our offerings responsibly and with our core principles in focus.