Explore the Nellie

But he is principally – and mostly –an inspiration to crew and passengers aboard the Grand Nellie, be they participating in a training sail or aboard decks for a wedding or customized charter.

Captain Ron grew up in New Jersey, and he began working on shrimping boats in his teens – at the same time that he was accumulating flying hours behind airplane controls. “I sailed when I wasn’t flying, and I flew when I wasn’t sailing.” By age 21, he’d mastered flying and was a commercial pilot, and he’d started working at a young age to accumulate hours towards his Captain’s license.

“While both flying and sailing give me that same sense of freedom and responsibility for ushering customers to safety, I always felt more at home on the water,” Captain Ron says. “I wanted to spend all my time out on the water, on ships, sailing. And by my 30s, I’d made my choice: I wanted to sail for a living, and I wanted to help kids while I was doing it.” Captain Ron has had his 100-ton sailing license for nearly 20 years, which he uses during the Schooner Grand Nellie’s charter trips to sea. When he’s not sailing, he flies around the world for a private jet charter company.

Captain Ron is married to Debbie Parfitt, President of SAILvation, the non-profit that operates on the Grand Nellie’s decks when not under charter. They’ve been together since Ron first dreamed of the Schooner Grand Nellie in 2006, and were married in 2013.


Ron Parfitt has traveled thousands of miles and hours via air and sea in his journey to the decks of the Schooner Grand Nellie, where he serves as owner, chief Captain, trainer, navigator, carpenter, oil changer, and other tasks as required.


The Schooner Grand Nellie needs a crew of up to three to operate at sea, to haul sails, make sail adjustments, help the boat tack, and provide general safety for passengers aboard the Schooner Grand Nellie. Equal parts able seaman and fun-loving adventurers, Grand Nellie crew members are gracious, courteous and great sailors with ample sea time aboard the Nellie and other classic sailing ships.  


Captain & Crew

Ron Parfitt