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The Most Feared Man On Instagram

Trust us—you don’t want to end up on Aaron Stasiak’s page. That name doesn’t ring a bell? Maybe you’d know him better by his handle: The Qualified Captain.

Spend enough time on a boat and you’ll undoubtedly find yourself in some dubious situations. We’ve all stepped off a dock by accident or played some unintentional bumper boats. Unfortunately, some lessons have to be learned the hard way, but now that everyone everywhere has a camera in their pocket, our less-than-perfect days on the water can quickly become social media gold. And when it comes to social media, one of the best accounts you can find is ­@TheQualifiedCaptain on Instagram.

Boat ramp fails, bows getting stuffed in the inlet, bridge underpasses that should’ve been avoided, intoxicated boaters making bad decisions, this is the type of content that has helped The Qualified Captain grow its audience to a whopping 760,000 followers. We were curious to learn more about the page, so we reached out to its founder, Aaron Stasiak.

Aaron Stasiak, The Man Behind The Qualified Captain

Aaron Stasiak, The Man Behind The Qualified Captain

What we found surprised us: Aaron isn’t a social media guru; he’s a full-time marina employee and part-time tow boat captain. He isn’t out to shame people. He just wants to show the funnier side of life on the water and hopefully teach boaters that it pays to know what you’re doing when you leave the dock.

Power & Motoryacht: How did you get this Instagram page started?

Aaron: I work full-time at a marina, and it blows our minds that there’s no [required] boating safety course in most states. We’d watch people making these crazy mistakes and we’d try to help them, but sometimes they would get angry. So we’d just back away and let them do their thing. I started getting the phone out, videoing them and sending it to my buddies. We decided to make an Instagram page and that’s how it all started.

PMY: Around Christmas time you posted a message saying that the page is meant to be fun. I mean, anyone who’s had a boat has made some of these stupid mistakes.

Aaron: Absolutely. I’ve made a ton of mistakes myself; we all have. Don’t take it personally. In a way, it’s starting to become a page that shows people what not to do. Anyone can go buy a boat, but they don’t have a clue what they’re doing. I never expected to get to 760,000 followers. It happened really fast. We started the page in 2018.

PMY: I thought you were going to be a social media marketer or something.

Aaron: No, not at all. At first I had no idea about the potential or the business and marketing involved. I want to keep the page kind of organic. I don’t want to make it a big ad page. I don’t want to sell out. That’s how you lose your fans. I want people to laugh and learn. People ask us questions all the time—how do I do this or that—and I respond to them, but it’s hard; we get hundreds of messages every day.

PMY: It seems like more people are sending you videos that they took on the water.

Aaron: Definitely. It all started with me and a couple of friends taking videos on our phones, but I don’t even have to do that anymore. Now, people just send their videos to me. Everybody gets upset that we’re making fun of people, and I mean yes, we are sort of, but we’re trying to show them how to prevent these mistakes, too. People who see a post might say “I don’t want to be on that page.” I mean accidents happen. We’ve all run aground, and the things you see at boat ramps are crazy.

PMY: I saw one video you posted of an intoxicated woman who makes this slow-motion, head-first fall into the water, and it had 750,000 views. Was that the most popular thing you’ve posted?

Aaron: I launched that one on January 1. My caption was “2021: Day 1.” That was probably the most viewed post. But you’ve got to be careful—imagine if she was by herself.

PMY: Have you ever had people who ended up on your page ask you to take down the post?

Aaron: I have, and I’ve taken a few down, but not many. I also have a lot of people say, “Hey, you got me” and have a laugh. It’s nothing personal. Especially in these tough times, it’s good to have a laugh.

This article originally appeared in the October 2021 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.