2018 Annual Guide: Nantucket
A day in the life of: Bob Egan, Siasconset native and president emeritus of the Egan Maritime Institute Board of Trustees
By Kristina Atsalis
Nantucket native Bob Egan was born and raised in the fishing village of Siasconset, attended Boston University, and later settled in Pennsylvania, where he opened his own business producing signs in the image of historic ship quarterboards. His family had a motorboat, and Egan estimates they never went farther than a mile offshore. That was the extent of his maritime experience.
Today, he heads a foundation that ensures the next generation of Nantucketers has a more robust maritime background. The Egan Maritime Institute, which Bob Egan took over after his uncle, Albert “Bud” Egan, Jr., passed away in 2000, partners with local schools to offer “Sea of Opportunities,” designed to reconnect young islanders with Nantucket’s maritime identity. With a hands-on maritime curriculum available to students in both middle school and high school, the program teaches students that professions in the modern seafaring industry are diverse, including engineering, construction, aviation and scientific research.
“No one ever told me I could be a sea captain, or oceanographer, or maritime pilot, or an architect of commercial ships,” reflects Egan. “It was just not discussed. I wish a program like the SOO had existed when I was growing up.”
Egan, whose ancestry dates to Nantucket’s earliest settlers, remembers attending a one-room schoolhouse in elementary school, going to church every Sunday in the chapel where his sister was later married, and how he “walked or biked everywhere” growing up on the island. He remembers where he caught his first striper—at Pochick Rip—and how he earned money by cleaning up at his dad’s construction sites. He put himself through college mowing lawns on Nantucket in the summertime.
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