David Burch is the author of the courses and director of the school. He has more than 70,000 miles of ocean experience ranging from the Arctic ice edge to Tahiti and Australia in the Pacific and from New York to Panama in the Atlantic. He has sailed across the Pacific to Hawaii ten times, three times winning the Victoria to Maui yacht race, and in 1984 setting the elapsed time record for that passage for vessels under 38 feet long (the record lasted sixteen years, but was beat in the 2000 race). In powerboats, he delivered a 65-foot fishing vessel from New York to Seattle, via Panama and has made numerous coastal deliveries between WA and CA, AK, and Mexico. He navigated the only American entry (72-foot Cassiopeia) in the storm-ridden '93 Sydney
to Hobart yacht race and has since navigated that vessel on the '96 Vic Maui and Swiftsure
Lightship Classic when she won first overall in the latter. He holds a USCG masters license, 100 GT.
He is the author of nine books on marine navigation and his magazine articles have appeared in Cruising World, Ocean Navigator, Sailing, and Sea Kayaker. His column "Burch at the Helm" has appeared monthly in BlueWater Sailing magazine since 2009. His recent books are Radar for Mariners from McGraw-Hill, 2005; second edition of Emergency Navigation, 2008, and Modern Marine Weather 2008, fourth edition of Fundamentals of Kayak Navigation, 2009 The Barometer Handbook, and in 2010 How to Use Plastic Sextants. His textbooks and workbooks on Inland and Coastal Navigation and on Celestial Navigation are used by numerous schools, nationwide.
His work has been recognized with the Institute of Navigation's Superior Achievement Award for outstanding performance as a practicing navigator, and by a USCG citation for his successful weather and vessel performance analysis used in a search and rescue operation. In February, 2011 he was awarded Fellow grade in the Institute of Navigation. In May of 2011 he named a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation in London.
On the academic side, he is a past Fulbright Scholar with a Ph.D. in physics. Looking ahead, his goal is to sail the Northern Sea Route over the top of Russia. The trip has been planned in much detail for many years, but still hangs in limbo, waiting the proper conjunction of events...which are sneaking up on us.
Since 2005, he has served as the editor of the quarterly newsletter of the Foundation for the Promotion of the Art of Navigation.
In 2006 he had the pleasure to devote his summer to his friends and students of the OAR NW rowing team as they won the Great North Atlantic Rowing Race and earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the first row ever across the North Atlantic (New York City to Falmouth) that actually arrived at their intended destination. They demonstrated remarkable seamanship in the face of a hurricane passing directly over them, among other challenges that would have stopped any lesser prepared team. From our perspective, safely here in Seattle, it was an exercise in the latest technology applied to the most fundamental of craft. We carry on in their support in recent events and will so in future ones.