The grandson of TowBoatUS owner Charles Meyer, Dubinski is one of only 68 master mariners age 18 or less out of a total of 208,471, which puts the young captain in an exclusive club of just 0.00033-percent of active USCG licensed mariners.
For as long as Ryan Dubinski can remember he’s been riding on boats, swimming in the Lake and learning the ins and outs of a boat towing business.
Originally from Overland Park, Kan., the 18-year-old University of Central Missouri sophomore, who’s been spending his weekends at the Lake of the Ozarks since he was a kid, recently became one of the youngest licensed U.S. Merchant Mariners in the country through the U.S. Coast Guard.
The grandson of TowBoatUS owner Charles Meyer, Dubinski is one of only 68 master mariners age 18 or less out of a total of 208,471, which puts the young captain in an exclusive club of just 0.00033-percent of active USCG licensed mariners, according to Meyer.
“I’ve been running with Charlie since as far back as I can remember,” Dubinski said. “When I got my boating permit, I started driving down on the weekends, spending my summers here to get all my hours and experience.”
Due to USCG regulations, Dubinski’s service time for his captain license could only be counted from his 16th birthday, though he has been working for TowBoatUS for several years and gaining valuable experience under the wing of his grandfather.
After completing over 100 hours of certified classroom Marine Training, First Aid and CPR certifications, he applied for the license in early April 2017 and was issued it on May 12, 2017 during a ceremony. Dubinski completed his license with an eight-hours-a-day, eight-day course through World Wide Marine Training, held at a local resort in Osage Beach.
“You need to spend at least four hours on the boat for it to be considered a day on the water, and you need 365 days on the water to get a license,” Dubinski explained. “We’ve got four different boats, so I’ve spent different amounts of time on all of them.”
Before receiving his license, Dubinski worked as a crewman under other TowBoatUS captains, assisting with handling lines, towing broken down boats and even fighting boat fires on the Lake.
“The average day varies a lot, I usually cover from Bagnell Dam to the 19-mile marker and the Gravois Arm,” Dubinski said. “Most of the typical calls involve a breakdown in the channel, taking on boats that have sunk and boat fires. A lot of times at night we get BWI calls, MSHP state troopers call us to have a driver tow away a vessel.”
When Dubinski isn’t working for TowBoatUS, he enjoys riding wave runners, transporting family and friends to lakefront restaurants and trolling around the lake to fish. The sophomore is currently studying Construction Management and Business, and just completed an internship with TMS General Mechanical Contractors in Kansas City.
Though he plans to pursue a full-time career in those areas upon graduation, Dubinski still sees himself traveling down to the Lake on weekends and working with his grandfather as a licensed captain. He now can be hired to operate a vessel up to 56-tons on any inland body of water, he said.
“That’s what I’m aiming for,” he said. “But I’ll still be around on the Lake for the weekends. I really enjoy it.”