SOUTH PORTLAND — Patrick Martin has his sights set on becoming a captain of a ferry or tugboat, a path he was led to through a year-long internship.
Martin, 18, will enroll in Maine Maritime Academy in Castine this fall, studying vessel operation and technology. He interned with Portland Tugs for a year, an experience he said helped solidify his decision to enroll at the maritime institution.
Martin’s physics teacher at South Portland High School, John Lane, said Martin possesses a maturity most people don’t develop until they near age 30.
“He’s a wonderful guy, and a hardworking student,” Lane said. He’s particularly impressed with Martin’s ability to get up before dawn, work at Portland Tug, attend a full day of school, then go off to a soccer game or track meet.
“He’s very humble about it,” Lane said of Martin’s work ethic.
For his part, Martin said Lane was an influential teacher he plans to stay in touch with while he’s at the academy. He said he’s excited to attend college and focus his interests in the fields of science and technology, and also take a firefighting course.
Peter Rodriguez, a deckhand and mate at Portland Tugboat who worked with Martin during the year-long internship, said Martin was capable, easy to teach, and will do well at Maine Maritime. “He’s a smart kid and a quick learner,” he said.
Martin’s father, Randy, was in the Coast Guard for 25 years, and, when he was younger, that was Martin’s plan as well, although he said his father always encouraged him to keep an open mind and pursue other interests.
Apart from his interest in the maritime industry, Martin was involved in various activities during his high school career, including jumping in at the last minute to fill in for the lead of the high school musical.
Martin carried the show for two nights after he was asked to fill in just one hour before the opening night performance. Although admittedly nervous, Martin quickly learned the material and took on the role.
He said he was glad he did it, adding the experience prompted him to rethink his decision not to audition for a more prominent role.
“I like spontaneous things,” he said of performing at the last minute.
Martin credits his two older sisters, Maddie and Elisa, for involving him in the school’s music programs, as they suggested he perform with them when he was in middle school. Along with being active in musical productions, he’s also part of the chamber singers group at school.
Martin learned he was comfortable in the marine environment and became excited by the work as an intern with Portland Tugboat. The job shadowing position began with three days a week, but then led him to work for the company as needed throughout the school year.
Martin was able to get a sense of the day-to-day work life by helping to shift tugboats, barges and ships in Portland Harbor. He described being in the wheelhouse as “an amazing experience.”
As South Portland’s senior class prepares for graduation Sunday, June 10, at 2 p.m. at the high school, Martin’s advice to underclassmen is to challenge themselves by taking academic risks, enrolling in difficult courses, and not shying away from challenges – advice he wishes could impart to his younger self.
Although excited to move on to college, Martin said he will miss the supportive atmosphere of South Portland, and his friends in the musical world and on the sports teams.
Martin said he plans to explore the country, especially coastal communities, but eventually will settle back in his home state.
Patrick Martin will graduate from South Portland High School June 10 and enroll at Maine Naritime Academy in the fall.