As sea dogs go, Captain Chris "Castaway" Pawlak, is a little less salty than most. This former land-lubber grew up in the Rocky Mountains before moving to Tampa Bay. He earned his sea legs on the crew of the Yacht Starship dining cruise, eventually moving over to the Pirate Water Taxi where he worked his way up from mate to captain. A fan of local history, he spins quite a yarn for passengers as he navigates the bay and Hillsborough River.

Where are you from? Denver, Colorado 

Who’s your hero and why? Captain James Cook, he took a ship made for hauling coal and sailed to places never yet visited by Europeans at the time. 

What do you do for fun or hobby? I sail and read books about naval history. 

Tell me about your job.  People from around the world come aboard our boats and we show them a side of Tampa Bay that even some locals still have never seen

What do you like about about your job? Everyday out on the water different from the previous day -- the experience can change from hour to hour.

How would your life be different without tourism? Not only would I not have a job, but life in Florida would be quite different as tourism is our number 1 industry. 

What’s something people don’t know about your job? That every commercial captain has to be licensed through the United States Coast Guard.  

What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you on the job?  Probably all the karaoke requests. I sing a mean sea shanty.

What do you recommend your visitors do for fun when they come to Tampa Bay? Water taxi in the morning and the H.B. Plant museum in the evening followed by dinner at Armature Works.