The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), Nov. 2, 1900

Full Text

"Captain" will hereafter be the prefix to the name of Mrs. Alice C. Chaney, wife of Dr. Willard Chaney, of 121 West High street. She will have as good a right to it as has any commander of any lake vessel, for a day or two ago she successfully passed an examination, conducted by Hull Inspector Millen, for a special pilot's license. This license permits her to command steam vessels on the waters between Lakes Huron and Erie. Her command will be the steam yacht Marjorie, of five tons burden, owned by her husband. The latter had applied for a joint license entitling him to act in the joint capacity of engineer and pilot, but the law does not permit it on a craft of her character. The operation of the boat will still be entirely in the family, the crew consisting entirely of officers and the officers being the doctor and his wife.

Perhaps it was better, after all, that the joint license was refused, as the subsequent proceedings developed unexpected cleverness on the part of Mrs. - beg pardon, Capt. - Chaney. Question after question was asked of the lady by inspector Millen, and to all she returned prompt, decisive and correct answers. Her brightness and unexpected knowledge of steamboats and the laws that govern their operation somewhat staggered Capt. Millen, and he had frequently to pinch himself to see whether it was an actual occurrence in which he had a part, or just a dream, an echo of an overdose of mince pie.

Did Mrs. - there's that slip again - Capt. Chaney know the signification of starboard, of port, the color of the light that characterizes each; of the word "amidships," of the signals to the engineer to go ahead, stop, check, back, full speed ahead or astern; of the white lights, etc? Did she? Well, what she didn't know about them nobody else living knows, and that's flat.

As to the White law, with all its scores of rules that govern the navigation of vessels sailing in American lake waters, she has about as thorough an understanding of every detail as is possessed by any master on the lakes.

If, as the down-bound boat, and having the right of way, she had blown a passing signal to another steamer bound up, her signal had been misunderstood by the other, she would lose not an instant's time blowing an alarm signal, if necessary, and calling the other to his senses. Those were not her exact words, but her meaning, and her answer came as quickly as thunder following the lightning flash. It was quite evident, also, from her manner that if caught in a tight place with her little steamer, and in danger of being sent to the bottom of the river, that even then her quickness, coolness and decision would not desert her.

Could she box the compass? Oh no, not at all! Forward and backward, up and down, across and back, in and our - any old way. Yes, she could box it, and uppercut it, and jab it, and jolt it, and in forty ways show that she perfected control of it. You bet she could box it.

The Marjorie is as much a steamboat as the North Land. She is driven by a cute little steeple engine, the steam furnished by a neat cylindrical boiler, and her speed is at least equal to that of the average steam yachts hereabout. Dr. Chaney, the engineer, was compelled to get out an engineer's license. She will carry a score of people with comfort. All this is mentioned to show that while the craft is for pleasure purposes only, the lady master is entitled to all the honor and admiration due to one carrying so distinguished a title about in his vest pocket - excuse us again - her muff. Dear, dear, this change of relationship between the sexes and the occupations has us all in a tangle, for, come to think of it, Capt. Chaney need both hands to steer with, and the muff would only be in the way. What we meant was her overskirt pocket.

Some pertinent questions will probably be asked by the public. Suppose, while Alice C. Chaney was in command of the yacht the engineer refused to back the boat when she ordered it, and instead sent it ahead? Wouldn't this be mutiny, and wouldn't the offender be subject to a penalty? Yes, but the doctor will have the best cards in the pack, for to complain against him to Uncle Sam would break up the combination, and she might be deprived of the yacht and the pleasure of commanding it. Suppose she ordered the engineer to wheel coal aboard, and he refused; could she discharge him? Not very well, for the doctor might get mad and refuse to play any more and it would be all off as far as fun on the yacht is concerned. There is an unlimited field for the joke mixer, and all who send in good ideas will be suitably rewarded.

Capt. Chaney is of average height, of middle age, well-preserved, attractive in appearance, has a good understanding of the world and the people in it, and is of the type that reflects full credit on the American nation. She has a daughter just reaching young womanhood.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Original:
Nov. 2, 1900
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), Nov. 2, 1900