Maritime expert witness services by Captain Mike Monastra

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I am a private yacht captain and a SEAK trained expert witness. My career on the water has led to working as an expert regarding seamanship and maritime cases. Years of teaching sailing and powerboat courses have given me the skill set to explain complex maritime laws and rules to the layman. I enjoy what I do and my services are are recommended by those who I have helped. I am prompt to reply with opinions to lawyers. I have experience and training with report writing in federal cases and I have professional deposition training. I excel at making complicated seamanship matters easy for the non sailor and jury to understand.

Mike Monastra at the wheel of his boat.
Captain Mike Monastra at the helm of Prairie Girl 2 on Lake Okanagan, British Columbia.
Our yacht, Prairie Girl on San Diego Bay
Our yacht, Prairie Girl on San Diego Bay

Maritime Experience

I've sailed and skippered almost every type of sailboat and motor yacht. I am proficient in all aspects of seamanship in small and large sailing and motor yachts. I received my Captains License in September 1990 when I was twenty years old and sailing and motor yachting is the only job I have ever had.

Throughout my career racing sailboats and working on motor yachts, I worked as a professional sailing and powerboating instructor at San Diego Sailing Academy and San Diego Powerboating Academy. My dad, Captain Nick Monastra, and I owned and operated the academy until December 2021 when we retired from issuing student certifications. We certified over 2600 students in the ASA program and the US Powerboating program. These courses were all private, liveaboard instruction on sailing and motor yachts we owned and provided.

The old San Diego Sailing Academy and San Diego Powerboating Academy websites have been made available here for archival purposes, however these businesses are no longer active.

Current Activities

I'm semi-retired now. My wife, Sue and I enjoy splitting our time between our home on Lake Okanagan in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada (where we keep PG3 our 2024 Cobalt R4) and cruising aboard Prairie Girl, our 1999 Offshore 48 Pilothouse motor yacht based out of  Loews Coronado Resort in San Diego, California, USA.

Since we're just cruising, I’m available to provide an opinion. Just call me, tell me about your case and I will provide a preliminary opinion. Engage me and I will review your documents and provide a report. I’m available to be deposed and for trial. Otherwise, I’ll be on the water, on one of our boats.

Jack’s Wylie Menace PC#62
Sailing Jack’s Wylie Menace PC#62
Man sitting at the helm of a powerboat, looking at dashboard controls
Mike at the helm of Prairie Girl 3
Man at the helm of a powerboat looking out the front window through binoculars.
Mike at the helm of Prairie Girl, the offshore 48

Certifications & Professional Experience

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Licenses, certifications, & recent experience

  • USCG License #2284727, 1990-Present
  • SEAK trained expert witness (Maritime/Seamanship) 2018-present
  • American Sailing Association certified instructor #900854 1990-present
  • Recreational Powerboating Association certified instructor #900854 2009-present
  • US Sailing Safety at Sea certified #179012R 2000-present
  • Certificate of Proficiency for Navigating in Mediterranean waters (Yacht Helmsman)
  • World Sailing group 3 (professional) competitor 2004-2021 (retired)
  • US Sailing certified instructor #179012R 1995-2021 (retired)
  • US Powerboating certified instructor #179012R 2012-2021 (retired)

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Seamanship Certification Courses that I am certified to teach

  • ASA Basic Keelboat Sailing
  • ASA Basic Coastal Cruising
  • ASA Bareboat Chartering
  • ASA Coastal Navigation
  • ASA Advanced Seamanship and Cruising
  • US Sailing Basic Keelboat
  • US Sailing Basic Cruising
  • US Sailing Bareboat Cruising
  • US Powerboating Basic Powerboat Cruising
  • US Powerboating Inshore Powerboating Cruising
  • RPBA Twin Inboard certification
  • RPBA Single Inboard certification
  • RPBA Directed thrust certification
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Professional Sailor / Yacht Captain / Seamanship Consultant / President & Owner

  • Offshore Nautical LLC. 2018 to present.
  • Privateer Maritime Inc. December 1989 - March 2023.
  • San Diego Sailing Academy 1989-2021
  • San Diego Powerboating Academy 2009-2021
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Yachts that I currently own

  • 1999 Offshore 48 pilothouse motor yacht Prairie Girl
  • 2024 Cobalt R4 Prairie Girl 3 
  • 1981 Boston Whaler 13 classic Vamanos
  • Home Port:  Loews Coronado Resort, San Diego, California, USA and Kelowna Yacht Club, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
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Professional Sailor / Yacht Captain / Helmsman / Trimmer, June 1996-December 2021 (retired)

  • Pennell Yacht Racing
  • Dennis Pennell and Ernie Pennell
  • R/P 50, custom offshore sailing yacht Blue Blazes
  • ILC N/M 46, International Level Class sailing yacht Titan
  • Tripp 40, custom sailing yacht Voodoo
  • Farr 44, custom sailing yacht built for The Admirals Cup Bravura
  • P/C #62, Kettenburg Pacific Class sailing yacht Jacks Wylie Menace
  • Fleming 55 motor yacht Jersey Girl
  • Fleming 55 motor yacht Cheers
  • Home Port: San Diego Yacht Club, San Diego, California, USA and Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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Seamanship Consultant / Instructor, September 2022-present

  • Mark and Connor James
  • 2000 Offshore 54 pilothouse motor yacht Adventure
  • Home Port:  Kona Kai Marina, San Diego, California

Book a martime expert witness you can trust

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Have a question? Need a maritime expert witness for your case? Contact Mike to discuss.