Women of Maine: Emma Hathaway

Women of Maine: Emma Hathaway

When she was 14 years old Emma Hathaway’s parents brought her and her brother sailing on the Timberwind, a windjammer out of Rockport Harbor. It was late October, theboat’s last trip of the year. Interest piqued and eager to help, Emma was offered the job of cook for the following season. “After that summer,” Emma said “I knew there was nothing else half so much worth doing.”

That first summer aboard the Timberwind, the privateer schooner Lynx was built and launched from the adjacent Rockport Marine. “Seeing the construction and watching the fanfare at the launch was incredibly fun and cool,” expressed Emma. “She’s a lovely boat and I knew I wanted to sail on her.” After rounds and round of phone calls, the owners agreed to let Emma join the crew aboard Lynx in Hawaii.

During her first Pacific Ocean crossing on Lynx, the chief mate loaned Emma “Wanderer” by Sterling Hayden. The book’s message about caring less about money and more about what one  sees and experiences each day influenced Emma and made her realize just how little one really needs to lead a happy and fulfilled life. After  two seasons as an assistant cook aboard the Timberwind, Emma went on to crew on the Pride of Baltimore II, Spirit of Massachusetts and Niagara.

In February, Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) named her captain of the historic schooner Bowdoin, one of the school’s training vessels. Currently undergoing a renovation, it is the first extensive rebuild project with which Emma has been directly involved. “I am lucky to have such a great opportunity to learn the ship from “the bilges up”. We are only a few weeks from our launch date and keeping very busy. The work has been exceptionally well done.”

The Bowdoin’s mission as a sail training platform is significantly improved by her historic legacy. She is the only American schooner built specifically for Arctic exploration, and she was built in East Boothbay, Maine. “She is a truly unique vessel that could never be replaced,” writes Emma. “She is well recognized and loved all up and down the coast, and that affects the experience that our students have. It could be compared to being a part of an extended family. One is welcomed and made to feel at home because people love the ship and that love extends to the sailors onboard.”

To other girls and women who dream of running away to sea or who just want to exist in this world in a balanced and peaceful way, Emma had the following three suggestions:

1. Be conscious of not reinforcing the bias in either direction. Don't judge or make assumptions about anybody because of their gender.

2. Be patient and communicative. In general, people don't know that something they say is offensive and just need to be told (gently) that it is.

3. Don't allow other’s judgments to effect how you see yourself or what you believe. Question everything.

The Maine Women’s Fund is pleased to recognize Emma Hathaway for being named captain of the Bowdoin, and as a role model for women and girls in Maine. Her inspiring contributions to the student experience at Maine Maritime Academy and in training the world’s future sailors deserve our thanks.

If you know of a Maine women or girl whose story deserves recognition, please email thewomen@mainewomensfund.org.


Posted 06.01.2016 under News and Resources