Famous Boaters Throughout History

Pirates, Captains, Fisherman, Oh My!

Maritime Leaders

The boating industry has been shaped by influential men and women who did good things and bad to earn their place in maritime history. Below we take a look at some of the more influential persons who have left their mark in history books.

Edward Teach, Pirate

Who is the most famous pirate? Edward Teach, also known – and famously recognized by the name of  “Blackbeard.” He was the most widely feared pirate of his time (early 1700s) and amassed a crew of more than 300. He is best known for defeating the famous warship, HMS “Scarborough” in sea-battle. Blackbeard is a character in the 2006 movie, Blackbeard, and the 2015 film, Pan.

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Mary Lacy, Shipwright

In the mid to late 1700’s women did not work as shipbuilders, even through years earlier women throughout Europe managed shipyards. Dressed as a man, Mary Lacy, received her shipwright certificate in England and began working among male shipbuilders under a male name. When she retired (after revealing her gender to her colleagues) she was – to most everyone’s surprise – acknowledged by the British Admiralty as the first female shipwright.

Read more about women in the maritime industry.

Edward John Smith, Captain

Captain Edward John Smith (EJ Smith) was, at the height of his career, a commanding officer of numerous White Star Line vessels. He is notoriously known as the captain of the RMS Titanic. Captain EJ Smith perished on the RMS Titanic when the unsinkable ship sank into the Atlantic ocean on April 15th, 1912.

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Thomas Gifford, Fisherman

He developed a reputation for record catches and his famous clientele, which included Ernest Hemingway and Charlie Lehman, but Thomas Gifford is more than a boat charter captain for other famous fisherman. He is also the inventor of the flying gaff and the star-drag reel. Fisherman and boat charter captains around the world still consider the gear he developed as a staple for their fishing practices.

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Robert Fulton, Inventor

John Fitch is credited with building the first steamboat, which carried passengers from Philadelphia to New Jersey. In the years that followed he created plans and developed the use of a steamship for maritime travel, but the expense of building them was too great for the plans to ever be put to use. Already a maritime leader in his own right, Robert Fulton, inventor of the submarine, hatched a plan to build steamboats at an affordable cost. He made history in 1807 when his steamboat traveled from New York City to Albany.

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Odysseus, Greek King

Functional or not it is hard to ignore Odysseus’ journey when speaking of great mariners. Odysseus and his crew endured an epic journey on the seas and overcame many mythical creatures, including the cyclops, circe, sirens and the great sea monster, scylla.

Read more about fictional maritime leaders.

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