The Sailing Surgeon

Outstanding Instructor Series

John Martin is a guy who knows how to live life. A retired surgeon who has sailed around the world, Martin has over 48,000 nautical miles under his belt and he’s still sailing all the time.

The sailing bug bit him as a 7-year-old racing Lasers, Flying Scotts and then 470s through high school and college. As he got older the boats got bigger and he was soon crewing on the larger mono’s racing the Chicago and Port Huron to Mac races.

Today he’s an instructor at the Great Lakes Sailing Company in Traverse City, Michigan where he’s enjoying his second career as a sailing instructor. For his dedication to education and conscientious work there, he has been recognized as one of ASA’s Outstanding Instructors.

“One thing  I think really helps me as an instructor is my military background in the USAF. The US military is a well greased machine when it comes to training,” Martin said of his style of teaching. “Also having been a training surgeon at a large teaching hospital I have learned that the teacher must adapt to individual students.”

It probably doesn’t hurt that the sailing surgeon is extremely experienced. He traversed the world in both his Moody 46 and Lagoon 440; in the latter sailing over 5,000nm alone.

“Dealing with a strong gale and seas over 25-ft for a couple days and nights really put the exclamation point on ‘adventure!’” he said.

After traveling to so many locations he flinched when asked where his favorite place to sail might be.

“I love Northern lake Michigan and Huron,” Martin pondered. “Places like the North Channel are fantastic. I also really enjoyed Croatia, Greece, the Spanish Virgins, the Far Islands of Bahamas, and oh my word the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia not to mention Fiji…”

But when he’s home and sailing on the Michigan waters his focus is on teaching, which he loves to do.

“One tip I would give to students is to pay no mind to how the other students in your class are doing,” Martin said. “We all learn different things at different paces so relax. You may see someone do a maneuver better than yourself but you may very well be understanding the concept better. Just enjoy and go at your own pace.”