Rob McCrimmon

It is a noble thing to help others for a living, and Rob McCrimmon has made a career out of it.

Rob McCrimmon served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 28 years before retiring five years ago. He is currently a deckhand while he works towards his ferry captainís license.


Published: July, 2018


It is a noble thing to help others for a living, and Rob McCrimmon has made a career out of it. He devoted 28 years of his life to the United States Coast Guard, and today he works as a casual deckhand with the Inlandboatmen’s Union as part of his journey toward becoming a ferry captain. For McCrimmon, being on the water while providing a quality service for his neighbors is the perfect combination.


“I like working in the ferry system because I get to travel all over the Bay,” he said. “I’m learning a lot of new things, I like the camaraderie of working with crews, and I get to help make sure that people enjoy the place that we’re blessed to live in!”


McCrimmon retired as a captain for the Coast Guard about five years ago. Aside from the adventure, camaraderie and coastal living that the Coast Guard has to offer, he was also drawn to the humanitarian nature of the Coast Guard’s work. He’s lived in Miami, Long Beach, Washington D.C., New York City, Oahu and Seattle. His final location was at Coast Guard Island in Alameda, which is where he decided to retire.


Since retirement, McCrimmon has kept himself busy, mostly with volunteer work. He’s worked as a deputy course marshal for the America’s Cup races and has helped support the Alameda Food Bank. He has also given about 1,500 volunteer hours toward helping to build the Matthew Turner, a wooden tall ship. The Matthew Turner is part of the work of the nonprofit Call of the Sea, whose mission is to inspire youth via experiential and environmental education under sail.


“In working on that ship and being around people that were into sailing and boats, it reminded me how much I like being on and around the water,” McCrimmon said. “So I thought maybe I should work towards a captain’s license.” With the Coast Guard he has plenty of lifetime days at sea, but he needs more recent time (within the last three years) to qualify for a license, so he went straight to the ferry boats and now his mission is underway. In sum, McCrimmon is certainly not experiencing your average retirement.


If he’s not floating out on the water, he might be surfing on it. McCrimmon spends much of his time at Stinson Beach riding the waves of Bolinas. He’s also into sailing, hiking, traveling and long runs on the beach. He visited India earlier this year and has eyes on Europe in the fall. Some of his favorite hikes are in Marin, including the Dipsea Trail, Matt Davis Trail, Lima Valley and Point Reyes. “They’re all beautiful because they’re along the coast,” he said. “You hike up and you’re rewarded with these spectacular views of west Marin.”


Coming from McCrimmon, referring to these local views as “spectacular” says a lot. He’s seen quite a bit in his day, which includes commanding a 157-foot buoy tender based in New York Harbor, being stationed at Pearl Harbor, and leaning over the open loading ramp at the back of a C-130 flying over the Arctic Circle to get a once-in-a-lifetime view of the north slope of Alaska. If you have any questions about life in the Coast Guard, make sure to ask next time you see him on board.


Having resided in Alameda since being stationed there in 2008, McCrimmon can’t recommend the ferries enough. “When I lived in Seattle I noticed that when I rode the bus to work, I was a lot more relaxed—I was tense from driving and didn’t even realize it,” he said. “With the ferry, you get to be out on the water and see all the sights around the Bay in a relaxing, safe environment. It’s a pretty neat way to travel.”