Who is Michael Glasfeld?
In one of Buddha’s lives, he was a ferryman.
A ferryman? “He was drawn to the life because of the tranquility of being on the water,” explains Mike Glasfeld. “And he used his ferry to deliver people to enlightenment. How cool, right?”
Most definitely cool, and appropriate as well: Glasfeld is very aware of being in the business of enlightenment. “We often see the transformation of our busy city-folk to something much more relaxed and at peace once they’re on board our boat and out on the water,” he says.
Glasfeld should know. He’s the owner and president of the Bay State Cruise Company, which since 1973 has been operating the Boston to Provincetown ferry line, but he’s worked in the transportation field for 33 years, starting out as a deckhand. He was president and partner in SeaStreak, the operator of the Providence to Newport, Rhode Island ferry, the New Bedford, Massachusetts to Martha’s Vineyard ferry, and the New Jersey to New York/Wall Street ferry. From 2000-2006, Glasfeld was president of Spirit Marine, the largest operator of harbor cruise vessels in the United States. It’s an impressive résumé.
But what is between the lines is the clear message that, like Buddha, being a ferryman—in one way or another—is clearly his vocation.
That Glasfeld has an enduring love of the sea is obvious. He’s spent time training at the Massachusetts Marine Academy and the King’s Point Merchant Marine Academy’s Global Marine Transportation School, and is a certified Master of Vessels for an impressive list of ships. He’s the kind of guy who might now spend a lot of time in meetings, but who would also know how to spot something wrong with a marine engine.
And he has a quote from Moby-Dick on his kitchen wall:
“But even so, amid the tornadoed Atlantic of my being, do I myself still for ever centrally disport in mute calm; and while ponderous planets of unwaning woe revolve round me, deep down and deep inland there I still bathe me in eternal mildness of joy.”
As the new season gets underway and his ships are ferrying people through the journey into their own personal transformations and happiness, it’s easy to imagine Glasfeld bathing in Melville’s “eternal mildness of joy” and, occasionally, reveling in the opportunity to himself experience the call, yet again, of the sea.