Plymouth native, Karen McDonald, was recently named first female captain of the sail-training vessel Spirit of Bermuda.
Her story was featured in the Royal Gazette, a major newspaper in Bermuda. The Spirit of Bermuda is a modern-built Bermuda sloop. She is a replica of a Royal Navy Sloop-of-war, depicted in a well-known 1831 painting.
The Clark University graduate took over the helm of the triple masted sloop from predecessor Scott Jackson last month and since then has made a “smooth transition” to her new role and surroundings.
“It’s always a challenge to learn a new ship, new waters and a new programme,” Ms McDonald told The Royal Gazette. “Every time you board a new ship there’s a bit of a learning curve there so it’s been a challenge but a challenge that was fully expected coming here.”
Ms McDonald, 33, comes highly qualified for the job as she holds a USA Coast Guard 500 ton Ocean Masters License and has sailed professionally for more than a decade.
“I actually started out as a student on a ship with a programme called Sea Education Association when I was in college,” she recalled. “That was really my first introduction to this lifestyle and I fell in love with it so as soon as I graduated I started working on ships and worked my way up.”
During her time as a professional sailor the native of Plymouth, Massachusetts has sailed on a variety of traditional schooners, including the Liberty Clipper, Spirit of South Carolina and Amistad.