Land + Sea +Air


captain debra




Captain Debra Marks has been working full time as a yacht captain for the past 42 years operating yachts of up to 164′ long. For two decades of this career, she was one of approximately five women in the U.S. to hold a USCG 500 Ton Masters License. Captain Debra Marks 

USCG Licensed 500 Ton Master

Yacht Captain – Hundreds of vessel trips: Vancouver through the Panama Canal, Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, South China Sea, Adriatic Sea, Bahamas, Florida to the Chesapeake Bay. Various vessels 42 to 164 feet in length. 1978-2021

Captained approx.12,500 vessel transits of San Diego Bay 5,500 at night. 1978 -2021.

Loaded/unloaded 18 various yachts from various transport ships worldwide.

Five San Diego Commercial Ship Transits (car carriers) with San Diego Harbor Pilots Capt. Ed Silva, Capt. Eric Ireland and Capt. Phil Ryan.

Instructor Teach hands-on close-quarters vessel maneuvering, systems, safety, navigation, electronics, cruising to new vessel owners. 2005 – 2021

Captain and Manager “Celebration” Cruise Line, San Diego. 110’ vessel, 150 passengers. Hired and trained staff and crew of forty to execute fire, abandon ship, MOB drills, and food service. 1992-1993

Charter Business Manager and Captain San Diego. 65’ motor yacht USCG Certified to carry 49 passengers. Managed, hired, and trained crew, operated and maintained yacht. Solely responsible for sales, marketing, and event management. Increased revenue an average of 35% per year over a ten year period. 1987-1997

Marine Consultant – Project Coordinator for H.I. Marina Association. Acted as liaison to the Port District and marina construction consultant. 1985

Director, Ship Operations – Developed cruise itinerary, examined a prospective ship in operation in the Med. Investigated all phases of operating a 500’ ship cruise ship. Negotiated terms of purchase and obtained financing. 1984

Importer & Distributor – Imported new 38’-90’ yachts. Inspected production in Hong Kong, managed sales, shipping overseas, delivery and commissioning. 1982 – 1985

San Diego Harbor Safety Committee – Appointed by the State of California to serve as Chair of the State-mandated committee. Committee members include representatives of the Navy, USCG, Port District, commercial shipping, harbor pilots, tug operators, CA Coastal Commission, and environmental. 1997-2009

Maritime Woman of the Year Award – 1992 2 Keynote speaker, National Academy of Sciences,

Washington, D. C. – 2006

Channel 10TV “San Diego’s Most Successful Individual” – 1989

President of Hot Picks Investment Club – 2008. Charter Member 1995

Appointed by Secretary of Homeland Security to the Chair position of the Federal Navigation Safety Advisory Council in Washington D.C.

Advise Federal Government on National & IMO issues. 2007 – 2015

Awarded a United States of America Medal for Meritorious Public Service

By the Commandant of the USCG in Washington, D.C. (see photo below)

I had the pleasure of chartering your yacht over Super Bowl weekend. I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know how pleased I and my associates were. The boat itself was in excellent condition. The accommodations were striking and most importantly immaculate. Capt. Marks made our stay most enjoyable by her courteous manner, her attention to her crew, and above all her professional presence. I have chartered many boats for both business and pleasure over the years and I do not hesitate to say this was one of the finest charters I’ve experienced. Capt Marks is to be commended and is truly a credit to her profession.”

Daniel M. DiCarlo, President, Area Lighting Research

“I was very pleased to hear that Debra Marks is under consideration for “Maritime Woman of the Year”. In my ten year association with Debra she has proved to be a true professional at all times. I will go so far as to say that I consider Debra the most outstanding captain in Southern California for yachts in the size and category she operates. I have found Debra to be competent in her job of operating yachts, astute in business, pleasant to deal with, and professional at all times. Debra certainly would have my vote for Maritime “Woman of the Year”! Beverly Parsons, Fraser Yacht Charters & Vice-Chairman American Yacht Charter Association

“Thank you so much for your hospitality during my visit to San Diego. Our time aboard your “command” was certainly a treat! Dave told me that I would not be disappointed and he was certainly right! It was a pleasure meeting you and being able to learn a bit more about your somewhat unique occupation. Thanks again and best of luck in your future endeavors.” D.P. Christie, Asst. Secretary to the Navy, Washington, D.C. 

“This is our 4th annual cruise with Captain Debra, they went

out of their way to show us a great time What a“10+”. Crew! No improvement necessary. Debra was so good I cannot believe she exists!! Best Captain I have ever had!!”Maria E. Nixson, Rancho Santa Fe

“We have observed the boat on a daily basis and find the Captain is very industrious, always working hard. They are respected by all their neighbors here on the dock and on a scale of 1 to 10 we rate them an “11”. Chris & Jean Frankel, San Diego

“Thank you very much for the time you spent with me going through my boat. Your knowledge of boating and engine maintenance is quite extensive and very impressive. Your suggestions as to how to get my boat mechanically in shape, as well as cosmetically in shape, are much appreciated. It’s really comforting to have someone like you to call on…thanks again.” Richard Gross, San Diego   

Presented to Captain Debra Marks in Washington, D.C. Sept. 2015
Meritorious Public Service Award:
The second-highest Public Service Award is given to recognize:

– Unusual courage in advancing a Coast Guard mission
– Substantial contribution to the Coast Guard that produced tangible results and Specific individual accomplishments that provide unique benefits to the public

Captain Debra
captain debra