There is nothing like owning a boat or being the full-time captain and responsible to an owner for the well-being of a boat, to give one an intense curiosity about how and why everything works — or doesn’t work. Virtually every member of BoatTEST’s new crew was selected because they actually own or captain boats similar to the ones they will be testing. They know what you really want to know — or should know. Join us for the ride, it will be anything but dull.
Capt. Shelley Morton holds a USCG 100-Ton License and has packed a lot of boating into her young life. She moved to Southern Florida in 2018 from Colorado to be a part of the yachting community and has done so in a big way. She and her partner purchased a 40’ (12.2 m) sailing catamaran and cruised around Southern Florida and the Bahamas for more than years, living aboard with their labradoodle in tow.
In addition to being a USCG Licensed Captain, she holds a Florida Yacht Broker License as well. When not testing and inspecting boats for BoatTEST, she can be found hunting boatyards looking for her next liveaboard vessel, which she says will most likely be a 55’ (16.7 m) powerboat.
Capt. Gregg Clark holds a USCG 100-Ton Master/200-Ton Mate license with sailing and towing endorsements. He has more than 3,000 documented days of sea service. He currently owns a 56’ (17 m) Vicem, a 40’ (12.2 m) racing sailboat and a 17’ (5.18 m) Mako. Capt. Gregg has powered and sailed more than 50,000 miles offshore and has raced in many of the world’s premier distance sailboat races.
He is a graduate of Purdue University with degrees in Electrical Engineering and Business from the Krannert School. He has captained motor yachts up to 120’ (36.5 m) and sailboats up to 100’ (30.48 m) and is active in teaching teenagers and adults boat handling skills. He splits his time between Greenwich, CT, Newport, RI and Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Capt. Kelly has a USCG 500-Ton license, has captained vessels up to 160’ (49 m) and is well-known in the megayacht and superyacht world. She is currently the Captain of a 108’ (33 m) megayacht that ranges from the Great Lakes to the Caribbean. She has a B.S. and an M.S. in chemistry and literally knows each item of equipment from the bilge to the masthead.
She is certified as an emergency first responder and medical person in charge. Capt. Kelly is also active in the marine industry having been a charter captain and a yacht manager as well as being in charge of new builds and refits of large yachts. She is also a columnist for the professional captains’ trade magazine Dockwalk.
Capt. Trip Smith recently obtained his USCG 100-Ton license and joined BoatTEST as a test captain. With 22 years of experience navigating various types of boats, such as center consoles, runabouts, wake boats, small cruisers and luxury yachts, he has honed his skills. He now owns a used 22’ (6.7 m) C-Dory, which he bought using his earnings from YouTube.
At 36 years old, he is living the dream of escaping the typical 9 to 5 job and has become a popular boat adventure video creator with 73,000 YouTube subscribers. Capt. Trip Smith's expertise is evident in his 434 videos, where he shares his experiences operating boats in all kinds of weather, spearfishing, collecting scallops, cooking fresh grouper on his boat’s grill and planning his next adventure.
Capt. Trip has an impressive background as a firefighter, outboard engine mechanic, boat rigger, fiberglass repair and restoration expert and kayak safety teacher. Most importantly, he brings an irrepressible sense of good cheer, a passionate love for boating and an infectious enthusiasm to the BoatTEST team.
Captain Justin Qvarnstrom, holds a 100-ton USCG captain and has over 18 years of experience in the boating industry working with owners and boat builders. He is also a boat broker and consultant to boat buyers. Most recently in his career he worked for a major premium-boat manufacturer to train and teach the fine points of boat operation and boat usage to some of their customers. Because of this experience, he brings a wealth of not only boat knowledge, but also insight into what new and used boat buyers need to know.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of the BoatTEST team after years of seeing its reviews,” Capt. Justin said. “Most of the boat buyers I work with are very familiar with Boat EST, and many cases it was influential in their buying decision. My passion for the yachting industry runs deep, and my goal is to provide unparalleled insight and support to clients looking to embark on the journey of luxury day boating or motor yachting. Having specialized knowledge in top-tier marine equipment including Mercury, Yamaha, Suzuki and Honda outboard engines, as well as inboard and sterndrive engines both gas and diesel, I can offer guidance beyond the normal point-and-see video walkthroughs. Because I have used most of the equipment being put on modern powerboats, I know the advantages and disadvantages of most equipment and gear. I look forward to providing valuable suggestions to guide boat buyers towards the best choices for an excellent boating experience.”
Capt. Ken Kreisler is a well-known figure in the marine industry, with extensive experience testing boats for major boating magazines. He has held a USCG 100-Ton License for 40 years and has served as a delivery and charter fishboat captain.
As the project manager for two small passenger ferry catamarans, he meticulously oversaw their design, engineering, and construction to meet stringent USCG build standards. Capt. Ken is an accomplished writer, having received several BWI awards and the John Burroughs Association certificate of commendation for his children's book Nature Spy, published by Macmillan.
He resides with his family on the Shrewsbury River in Monmouth Beach, NJ, where he enjoys boating on his 24-foot (7.3 m) Grady-White Explorer.
Eric Brandon is well-known to saltwater anglers in south Florida as host for the last 17 years of the “Weekly Fisherman Show” every Saturday morning, which is a “must-hear” program for anyone going fishing offshore. A lifelong boater (starting at age 8), Eric has owned boats all his life and has gained a keen appreciation of what boat owners and boat buyers need to know.
Eric served in the U.S. military, where he debuted as an Army radio broadcaster and found his calling. Upon discharge, he quickly became a top professional national on-air broadcaster. For the past 15 years, he has also worked in the boat industry getting to know boats from the inside, working for some of the most popular brands on the market as a broker.
When working with boat buyers, he draws on a lifetime of boating experience to guide boat buyers to the most appropriate boats for their specific applications.
Barry Thompson lives in Auckland, New Zealand, and is BoatTEST’s man on the other side of the world. Barry and his good mate Glen Urquhart are the only Kiwis to have won a UIM World Powerboat Championship, winning the title in Guernsey in 1986. While Barry is not one of our younger boat testers, he is certainly one of the most experienced boat handlers and has seen it all.
In 2009, he was initiated into the New Zealand Boat Show’s Hall of Fame for his many contributions to the sport. For more than 50 years, Barry has tested hundreds of boats for boating magazines he either worked for or started and is thoroughly comfortable with all types from small runabouts to large luxury motoryachts. Nevertheless, his heart has always been with offshore powerboat racing, even though he nearly died in one during an accident years ago. Barry will be testing boats along the Pacific Rim for BoatTEST.
Keep an eye out for the new team at BoatTEST because they will be making videos and writing reports to help with your boat and equipment buying.
The Unsung Heros
Because the captains are front and center on all the videos, they get all of the praise for videos well made. That is only part of the story. Behind the scenes at BoatTEST, there are the videographers behind the camera, the editors who take the raw footage and put it in an interesting sequence and pick the background music and put up the graphics. Then there are the people that write the scripts, fact-check, write the Captain's Reports and put up the test numbers and the reports on the website.
BoatTEST is the only major online presence that publishes a newsletter every day of the week, presenting boats we have tested as well as keeping our members aware of new boats that we have not tested yet. That takes yet another staff to write and find the articles, fact-check them and then put them into our style on the website. Then, other staffers create the newsletter and publish it every day.
Frank Sargeant — Senior Editor:
Frank Sargeant, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Boating and Sailing along with nine other books, is a former charterboat skipper and long-time outdoors editor of the Tampa Tribune, where he founded the Frank Sargeant Outdoors Expo, Florida’s largest outdoors show for more than 20 years.
He is also the former editor of SEA Magazine, former boating editor of Bassmaster, retired senior editor of Florida Sportsman and former contributing editor of Boating Magazine. His writing has won more than 60 national awards, including the 2022 Traver Award, one of the nation’s top fly fishing awards. Sargeant earned his B.A. and M.A. at Ohio University and was an English teacher before becoming a full-time writer. He now lives on Lake Guntersville in northern Alabama, where he continues his life-long passion for fishing.
Alistair Temps — Associate Editor:
Alistair's water journey began with a childhood shipwreck in the Irish Sea. He then traveled the world working on fishboats and entered the seafood business, which made him realize the importance of sustainable fisheries management. Growing up by the Mediterranean, he learned to sail and build boats. Alistair is a bilingual writer, editor, and translator of nautical books.
He also does weekly research reports for BoatTEST. In his free time, he races a Farr 40 in Acapulco Bay, which was the site of the 1968 Olympic yacht racing events where the U.S. won two gold medals.
Justine Hammond MacDonald — Chief Financial Officer:
Justine is the CFO of BoatTEST.com, overseeing various aspects of the business. With BoatTEST.com since 2001, she has held roles such as Managing Editor and Director of Video Productions. Coming from a boating family, Justine has a rich background in cruising and sailing. Her boating journey started at a young age, sailing an Opti in Long Island Sound.
As an avid boater, she has explored numerous locations from the Caribbean to New England, Nova Scotia, and the Inside Passage of Alaska. Currently, she owns a 62' tug boat named the Wallace Foss, adding to her previous ownership of a 19' Grady-White and a 22' Regal.
Jaclyn Marr — Content Manager:
Jaclyn is a veteran BoatTEST employee and content manager and production coordinator, where she formats the daily newsletter and keeps the newsletter going out on time. When not wrangling reports and articles she handles numerous special projects. She has a bachelor’s degree in communication from Manhattan College. When she can get away, she enjoys spending time with her family in Vermont.
Danette Cole — Data Entry and Articles:
Dannette has 20+ years of experience working with data, from apparel with Fanatics Inc to the public education system and now boating. Thanks to Dannette’s good work, BoatTEST newsletter readers get a potpourri of content each day ranging from new boat introductions, how-to videos, and seamanship content from our 15 partners. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her son and family in Florida.
Kurt Rotter — Cameraman/Video Editor:
Kurt Rotter is a professional commercial videographer and is well-known in professional circles for his body of work and numerous awards. Kurt has shot hundreds of BoatTEST video tests over the last 15 years, and for many years was BoatTEST’s only videographer. Currently, in addition to shooting boat tests, he is also working on BoatTEST’s Boating Course, adding a new lesson every couple of weeks.
When not flying around the country and shooting boats, he fishes and hunts in his home state of Minnesota. He owns a bass boat that he used for multispecies fishing as well as bass.
Dan Carney — Cameraman/Video Editor:
Dan joined the BoatTEST team as a video editor in 2005 and helped the company move from the early days of streaming videos and low bit rates, through numerous upgrades of encoding video protocols as this new streaming technology went through its growing pains. All along the way, Dan helped BoatTEST produce quality video well suited for increased Internet bandwidth.
Dan is also one of BoatTEST's primary cinematographers. He enjoys the creative process of working with our Captains to carefully craft compelling video content and capture boat brands in creative and interesting ways. Dan’s love for boating began in high school while maintaining an 18' Boston Whaler center console as a summer job and enjoying boating trips on the Sound.
Alex Hammond — Director of Video Content:
When not working on her film projects, Alex helps with creating new video content for BoatTEST like BoatTALKS and BoatTEST reports, breathing new life into our tests and producing videos at the boat shows. From a young age, she has sailed and cruised around with family, exploring the inside passage, the Caribbean, Maine, and Nova Scotia and most recently traveled to the Antarctic on a NYYC cruise.
She dreams of owning a Grand Banks and vintage Riva. She attended the Tish Film School at New York University and has B.A. in film from Cal Arts.
Kelly Matlock — Director of Business Development:
Kelly comes to us from outside the boating industry and brings a breath of fresh air, new perspectives, and ideas to our 23-year-old company. She is a veteran of B2B digital media, operations, marketing and management.
She comes to BoatTEST with 15 years of experience with the Laser Institute of America where she was Director of Marketing and Sales. There, she worked with nearly 100 clients to promote their businesses to both the wider laser industry, but also to consumers. Her attention to detail and professionalism makes her an important asset to BoatTEST’s growing staff.