Change of Watch at Inland Seas


Tom Kelly being presented the ships wheel and Fred Sitkins on his left

My wife and I recently attended a Change of Watch ceremony held at the History Center in Traverse City, MI. I had never heard the term “Change of Watch ceremony” before receiving the invitation from Inland Seas Education Association so I went on line to find out just what this was all about.

A Change of Watch ceremony, which is a Maritime ceremony, is typically held for a change in command in front of the people being affected by the change. In this case, since this is a mostly volunteer organization, a few staff, members of the board, and hundreds of volunteers. In the Navy, a Change of Watch Ceremony is usually held aboard ship in front of the crew to introduce the new captain and to relieve the old captain.

The Change of Watch ceremony also presents the accomplishments, which in this case are many, of the person being relieved along with the course or direction the ship or organization is heading. The person taking control is introduced in front of  the organization so that everyone sees who is now in command.


Director Tom Kelly

On Friday, November 8, 2013, Captain, Director and Founder of Inland Seas Education Association, Tom Kelly, turned over the Direction of the ISEA organization to Fred Sitkins.

Tom Kelly followed a dream and founded the ISEA with the help of John Elder and Peter Dorn in 1989. With Tom Kelly at the “wheel” for the last 25 years, he has directed it to the exceptional Great Lakes education program that it is today.


Fred Sitkins 

Fred Sitkins, educator, school principal, and past Schoolship volunteer will take the helm of ISEA and guide it into a new season in 2014.

The mission of ISEA is to “Enhance public understanding and stewardship of the Great Lakes through shipboard and onshore education programs for children and adults”. The shipboard programs run in the spring, summer and fall with the spring and fall program for School kids 4th grade through high school. The summer program is for families of all ages.

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