Thursday, October 27, 2016

Patsey Caraway

Last year, in an article in the San Francisco Chronical about maritime pioneers, Nancy Wagner, who had recently retired, was recognized as "the first female ship pilot in the United States."

In the past I have written about pilots who steered sailing vessels over the bar at Ocracoke Inlet.  There was at least one woman pilot in the early days. According to an article in the The Observer, Raleigh, June 22, 1879, John Gray Blount [1752-1833], in a diary, stated that when he was a very young man, an old man on Ocracoke told him that the first vessel ever piloted over Ocracoke bar was brought in by a woman name Patsey Caraway.

We don't know anything more about Patsey Caraway, Blount's report is admittedly anecdotal, the United States of America did not yet exist when Caraway reportedly acted as a pilot, and we have no idea if she was officially licensed.

Nevertheless, there is reason for a bit of island pride. It certainly looks like Ocracoke's Patsey Caraway cracked the "ship's pilot glass ceiling" more than 250 years ago!  Congratulations, Patsey!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is about earthquakes that have affected Ocracoke and the Outer Banks. You can read the newsletter here:  

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