Cruisers University Instructors

NEW LOCATION: Naval Academy Club at the United States Naval Academy

Presenters are professional, well-known, and experts in their fields.

Matt Benhoff

Matt Benhoff, of the Annapolis School of Seamanship, is a lifelong boater having grown up on the Miles River in Maryland sailing and fishing. He began sailing and racing at the age of 14 and quickly learned he had a passion to teach others. Matt was a sailing instructor for the Miles River Yacht Club for five years, teaching racers from beginners to advanced. After finishing two years at college Matt realized his passion was for the water, and in 2006 he joined the Coast Guard. Stationed in Boothbay Harbor Maine, Matt was a boarding officer and coxswain on the 47 foot Motor Life Boat and 25 foot RBS conducting law enforcement and search and rescue missions. 

Modern Coastal Navigation –  Saturday and Sunday, all day
Docking and Line Handling
Collision Avoidance: Radar & AIS

Lee Cumberland and Rachel Miller

Lee grew up boating in and around the Northern Neck on the Chesapeake Bay. After a succession of increasingly larger sailboats, he met Rachel in 2011. Rachel grew up sailing and cruising with her family on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake. Both are in their late-twenties and became full-time live-aboards a year and a half ago. In 2012 they bought a 1980 Tayana 37 and refit the entire boat before setting off in search of adventure in fall of 2015. They chronicle the trials and tribulations of the cruising lifestyle on their website,


Transitioning to the Cruising Life

Behan Gifford

Behan has sailed more than 50,000 miles with her husband, Jamie, and their three children. When they set off from the Pacific Northwest in 2008 aboard their Stevens 47, Totem, Niall was 9, Mairen was 6, and Siobhan was 4. Since then they’ve visited 34 countries, from Mexico to Madagascar. Before cruising, the Giffords lived in Bainbridge Island, Washington, where Behan built a career in management consulting, software marketing, and digital advertising. She holds master’s degrees in international studies and business administration. Behan maintains a blog for SAIL magazine and chronicles her family’s adventures at

Classes:  Cruising Women – Thursday and Friday, all day
                Misery is Optional; Successful Passagemaking
                Top 10 Cruising Destinations
                Communications for Cruisers

Jeff Jordan

Jeff has been sailing for 44 years, and has been at J World for 12 years.  He has logged over 10,000 offshore miles.  More than a dozen boats have been equipped by him for offshore voyages.  Jeff has extensive sailing experience in the Great Lakes, Eastern Seaboard, Florida and the Caribbean, and brings a wealth of knowledge to his seminars.

Classes:   Safety at Sea
                  Sail Trim for Control

Jeff Grossman and Jean Levine

Jeff and Jean assist couples in realizing their sailing dreams with their company Two Can Sail. They work with one couple at a time to provide cruising lifestyle training including; boat shopping/purchase, surveying, and personal training aboard the couple’s boat. Jeff has been actively boating over 45 years, sailing as Captain since the age of 15. Jean has been sailing since she was12 years old on vessels ranging from sunfish to 80’ schooners. Jean is an Accredited Marine Surveyor (AMS), a member of the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) and is ABYC Standards Certified. Jeff holds an Electrical/Computer Engineering degree and has worked with almost all forms of electronic navigation. Jeff is also a licensed Buyers Broker. Both Jeff and Jean are 100GT Masters, ASA Certified Sailing Instructors and together have sailed over 170 different models of sailboats. 

Classes:   5 Step Plan to Your Cruising Dreams  – Sunday, all day
                  OMG, We Bought a Boat!  Now what?
                  The Gourmet Galley
                  Choosing a Cruising Catamaran
                  Anchoring and Docking; Tips & Tactics
                  Coastal Cruising: Chesapeake to Caribbean

John Martino

Captain John Martino holds a 500 Gross Ton, All-Oceans captain's license from the US Coast Guard. He is an experienced professional captain with a 20-year background in marine training, as well as more than 1500 sea days upon waters ranging from the Great Lakes to Panama.John has served as captain on ocean-going vessels up to 105 feet, and has done extensive yacht delivery work. As founder and president of Annapolis School of Seamanship, he produces and leads courses ranging from basic navigation and seamanship for recreational boaters to professional mariner training for licensed captains up to 200 gross tons. John also writes boat reviews for Chesapeake Bay Magazine. 

Diesel Maintenance  Thursday & Friday
Boat Plumbing Demystified 
Guide to Short-Handed Sailing

Ralph Naranjo

Ralph Naranjo’s new book The Art of Seamanship has recently been published by McGraw-Hill and is a comprehensive look at boat handling, weather, navigation and crew development. Ralph is the Technical Editor of Practical Sailor Magazine, and a regular contributor to Cruising World and Chesapeake Bay Magazines.. During his ten year tenure as the Vanderstar Chair at the US Naval Academy, he coordinated safety and seamanship training for midshipman and played a key role in the design evolution of the new sail training sloops purchased by the Navy.
His offshore and coastal resume includes extensive cruising under both sail and power. Bermuda, Hawaii and transatlantic passages are familiar territory.  He and his wife and two young children spent five years engaged in a voyage around the world. In the 1980s, he managed the full service boatyard, and has been a regular presence in technical journals focusing predominantly on marine topics. During the past 17 years he has moderated US Sailing Safety at Sea Seminars, and also serves as an adjunct lecturer at the Annapolis School of Seamanship. He resides in Annapolis, MD and still favors spending as much time on the water as possible.


The Seaworthy Bargain
Refitting the Seaworthy Bargain


Steve Rakkar

Steve Rakkar is a licensed M.D. from England. He has practiced in Australia, England and USA for 36 years, including anesthesia, family practice and emergency medicine. He has sailed for thirty years and has logged about 10k ocean miles as captain or crew. In 2015 he captained his Valiant 40 from San Diego to Galapagos, crossed the Panama Canal and then the Caribbean Sea to Guatemala. He trains ocean sailors in managing emergency medical problems when no help is nearby.

Classes:  Medical Emergencies at Sea

Jody Schroath

Jody Argo Schroath has been an editor at Chesapeake Bay Magazine for the past 10 years, exploring and writing about the extraordinary estuary that is the Chesapeake Bay. She is also a veteran of nearly a dozen passages along the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and author of the new Atlantic Coast ICW Planning Guide, published by Chesapeake Bay Media. A lifelong boater in both sail and power boats, she currently cruises out of Annapolis aboard Moment of Zen, a 36-foot Endeavour sailing catamaran, with her two-dog crew, Bindi and Cowboy Bob.

Classes:  Navigating the ICW

 Scott Segal

An ABYC certified diesel technician, Scott Segal has more than 20 years of experience servicing marine diesel engines of all makes and models. Scott is the owner and founder of AR Marine Diesel Service which provides repair and repower services for diesel and gas engines and generators on both sail and powerboats. Scott has been teaching diesel engine maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting at the Annapolis School of Seamanship for over 8 years.

Diesel Maintenance  Thursday & Friday

John Stefancik

As Publisher of Chesapeake Bay Magazine, John Stefancik spends time on the water aboard his center console powerboat, racing sailboats of all sizes, and cruising the Bay. Born and raised into a boating family, John shared many summers in the v-berth with his brother while his parents took them cruising all over the Chesapeake for weekends and for weeks at a time. He also spent many off-seasons learning and refining marine maintenance skills on an array of his family’s boats. John lives just outside of Annapolis, and cruises with his wife and three children. 

Classes: Exploring the Chesapeake

Mark Thornton

Mark is a 2006 graduate of the Penn State University Certificate of Achievement in Weather Forecasting, a two-year program that develops skills in general, tropical and severe weather forecasting. He maintains a website ( devoted to marine weather education and forecasting resources and is the current president of the local chapter of the American Meteorological Society. Mark is employed as the Vice-President of Administration for the law firm of Wegman, Hessler & Vanderburg and as a Teaching Assistant in the Certificate of Achievement in Weather Forecasting Program at Penn State University.

Mark Thornton began sailing on Lake Erie in 1994 and he and his wife Susan currently own Osprey, a 1985 C&C 35. His interest in weather forecasting grew from his experiences cruising and racing on the Great Lakes. In addition to sailing and weather forecasting, Mark enjoys publishing summaries of interesting weather events and teaching basic weather forecasting skills to recreational boaters. 

Marine Weather Forecasting – all day class on Saturday
Weather in Motion: A Primer on Thunderstorms
Weather Makers: Low Pressure Overview
Weather Maps:  What's with all those Symbols?

Cathie and Peter Trogdon

Cathie and Peter Trogdon grew up boating in the Pacific Northwest and now reside in Annapolis, MD. They own a Harbor 20 sailboat and a Zimmerman downeast 36, BEE WEEMS, which they have cruised on every summer since 2006, logging over 20,000 miles from the Bahamas to Maine on the Eastern seaboard and from Anacortes to Alaska in the Pacific Northwest. They have also cruised portions of the Great Loop, up the Hudson River through the Erie Canal to the Great Lakes and  up to Lake Champlain and Montreal.

Classes:   Cruising Together 24/7

Pam Wall

Pam Wall and her husband, Andy, built their own Freya 39 sloop. After taking their two small children around the world on their boat KANDARIK, Pam worked at the West Marine store in Fort Lauderdale for several years. Pam started the Outfitting Program at West Marine where she helped fellow sailors get fully prepared for offshore cruising. Pam’s job at West Marine not only helped cruisers have the right equipment for blue water sailing, but she was also a source of any information on the cruising lifestyle. West Marine sent Pam to many of the boat shows to give seminars on sailing equipment, the cruising lifestyle, and empowering women to really like sailing. You can also become a student of Pam’s at the Bitter End Yacht Clubs annual event “Women on the Water Week” where she is an instructor for women sailors who want to learn more and become confident sailors.

Cruising Women  Thursday and Friday, all day
Proper Prior Planning
Great Products you Need Now
A Round Trip Tour of the Abacos

Bob Williams

Bob Williams is the founder and an owner of SALT (Sea-Air-Land Technologies) Service Inc. an organization dedicated to helping clients meet their energy management needs whether in marine or land-based environments.Originally focused on providing yacht builders with fully engineered systems, Bob and his company also address the needs of after market customers, providing them access to energy-related solutions configured for minimum maintenance and maximum efficiency.

Bob is himself an experienced cruiser, holding a 100-Ton USCG license, a licensed private pilot, a state-certified Solar Contractor, and an EPA Section 608 HVAC-certified technician – Type 3. He and his company are experienced in systems as varied as refrigeration and electrical power management on small recreational vessels, to their non-profit “Power Box” program which seeks to provide small communities in developing nations with self-contained, pre-constructed, solar-based power systems. SALT has been working for many years to provide power solutions for villages in developing nations in Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.


Crossing the Gulf Stream in Comfort
Cruising the Florida Keys
Keeping Cool: AC Simplified
Living Offshore with Wind & Solar Energy
Offshore Energy Design & Management

The Efficient Boat Fridge

Steve Zimmerman

Steve Zimmerman is the president and founder of Zimmerman Marine, a company specializing in boat repairs, refits, and maintenance. Started in 1981, ZMI now operates four boatyards in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. In addition, the yard has built a number of custom cruising boats in sail and power. 

Steve writes a column for PassageMaker Magazine and is one of the featured presenters at TrawlerFest events around the country. He has cruised the East coast from Nova Scotia to the Bahamas, the Great Lakes, the inside passage to Alaska, and has made over fifty delivery trips. 

Classes:  How to Maintain your Cruising Boat  Parts 1, 2 and 3

Cruisers University

Annapolis, Maryland

April 27-30, 2017
October 9-12, 2017

It was so well done from the lectures, to the delicious breakfasts and lunches to your wonderful cocktail hours.