THE CREW

We attribute much of our success to our liveaboard crews. Crew members are special people! It takes an outgoing exceptional individual to live and work on a scuba diving liveaboard and we think we have the best of the best on our sailboats!   Both the Sea Explorer & Morning Star have a hard-working crew of five, a captain, 1st mate, cook, engineer and dive instructor to tend to your needs and safety.

Captain Jim Swartzell

Captain Jim first joined Blackbeard’s in 1991 as the dive instructor on the Sea Explorer. He later served as engineer, until earning his Captain’s license and began the rest of his time as First Mate and Relief Captain throughout the fleet. He also sailed a few times as the chef! Jim left in ’95 to work in yachting. He came back in early 2016, missing the pirate life. Outgoing, friendly, and full of stories, he’s returned to his passions, sailing, scuba diving and fishing. Jim is a world traveler, and an avid motorcyclist/collector. Hobbies also include snowboarding, paddleboarding, rock climbing, and cooking.

Captain Michael RED Salmon

Red joined us years ago and hails from Virginia originally but if you ask him, the Bahamas he calls home. He went to the school of hard knocks and got a BS in BS. He loves to travel, take wild road trips to see NASCAR and never misses Talladega! He enjoys cook outs with friends especially. The lure of the sea brought him to diving. He started out as a cook and worked his way up to Captain. When he was just 14, he used a fake ID to join the crew of the Schooner AMERICA and sailed to Key West from Norfolk. She was built in 1851 and was the first winner of the America’s Cup. When they arrived in Key West, he was detained and then sent home. He found his way back to a sailing vessel a few years later and has made it his life.

Captain and First Mate Chris Lawrenson

Chris hails from Alabama and is a graduate of Auburn University. He traded in his suit and wingtips for a mask and fins a few years back and has never regretted it! Chris used to spend his vacations as a diver on Blackbeard’s and finally checked out of the corporate world for good. Now he enjoys traveling the world on his time off and hiking unusual places.

Captain and Assistant Crew Chief  Drew Johnston

Drew has a long history with Blackbeard’s! going to his college days at Ole Miss where he was the scuba club sponsor and brought new students out each year for spring break. We finally lured him to the life at sea and he joined us as an instructor working his way up to captain. He hails from Itta Benna, MS and now lives in Miami Beach when not on the boats.

Captain, First Mate, Engineer, Dive Instructor Tamlyn Hagerman

Tamlyn hails from South Africa and is both PADI and SSI certified as an instructor. She loves diving, hockey, hiking and basically all sports! She studied literature in university and is fluent in Afrikaans and English.

Captain, First Mate, Engineer, Dive Instructor Amanda “Breezy” Biltz

Breezy hails from Tennessee and has been diving since she was 15 years old when her dad suggested she try it. She has been hooked ever since her first breath in the pool. She likes to knit and read in her spare time. She attended ETSU for two years before deciding it was a pirate’s life for her. You wouldn’t guess it but Patrick Swayze is her biggest actor crush and since his death, she hasn’t been able to watch any of his movies. A true romantic!

Captain, Dive Instructor and Engineer Iain Barnes

AKA Podgey, this criminal psychologist major decided to pursue diving as a profession back in 2008 but has been diving since he turned 14. He enjoys watching real football and also playing it. He likes to go out, take long walks on quiet beaches and has no intention of telling u us a secret about himself so we’ll be creative and make one up- Podgey likes to take bubble baths with rose scented soap!

Engineer Corrai McManus

Born in Florida, raised in Alabama, Corrãi thrives in getting his hands dirty and engineering tirelessly as the food, the conversation, and the sights that come after come with greater satisfaction.  He spent his college days studying Philosophy and Psychology at Auburn University.  While he can’t have the engines aboard the Cat Ppalu recline on a couch and unravel their feelings to him, a mind conditioned for analytical thought, attention to detail, and problem-solving serve as the foundation for his newfound mechanical passion. 

Corrãi is an avid reader, a bluesy pianist, a world traveler, and a determined writer, hoping to cultivate some stories of his own out here and further advance his skills as an engineer.  

Dive Instructor Justin Mornhinweg

Justin is 22yrs old from Dayton Ohio.  He was dive certified when he was just ten years old and was hooked. He has traveled throughout the Caribbean such as Bonaire, Tortola “BVI’s”, Grand Cayman, Roatan, and of course the Florida Keys.  Before he decided to chase a dream of diving, he attend college in Dayton Ohio. He enjoys spending time with his family- all 4 siblings, him being the oldest.   When he wasn’t gaming with them he enjoyed going out with friends, playing disc golf, going to the gym, and helping coach youth wrestling.  Something you guys would never guess about Justin is that he has a love for musicals, West  Side Story is a classic.

Dive Instructor Elayna Verhaaren

Elayna hails from Auckland, New Zealand where she left her job as a marketing consultant to pursue a life on the ocean. Since then she has worked as a crew member on boats all around the world and has never looked back. Her hobbies include yoga and boxing as well as driving her motorbike ‘Vicky’ around the country-side back home. Something not many people know about her is that she used to be a part time special effects artist and has sculpted and designed prosthetic ears, noses and teeth that have been used on characters in Lord of the Rings & Narnia (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe).

Chef Dan Demers

Chef Dan comes from Northern Ontario, Canada and was born in Red Deer, Alberta. He grew up in a military family which allowed him to move to many different places within Canada. Dan loves traveling, playing all kinds of sports such as football, basketball and volleyball and pretty much anything outdoors. On his free time he loves to snowmobile, ice fish, snowboard and hang out with friends and family around bonfires. He has always had a passion for being on the water. Dan has had many different jobs such as framing houses, working in the Canadian oil fields, instructing snowboarding and his all-time love, cooking in restaurants. Something people don’t know about Dan is that the Abba Gold sound track is his favorite to jam out to.

Cook Jennifer Marshall

Affectionately known as Jenn on board, she hails from Ontario, Canada where she earned her Bachelor degree in social development studies.  She enjoys diving, freediving, hunting, fishing, and basically anything outdoors.  She got hooked on diving when she was 8 while on vacation.  She was certified alongside her dad when she was 14!  Something nobody knows–she is a diehard Star Wars fan.  May the force be with you.