Meet the Captain: First Female to Helm Edna Lockwood in 130 years

Woman boat captain behind the helm of Edna Lockwood

When the 85-ft. sailing vessel Edna E. Lockwood docks in Colonial Beach, Virginia, June 6-9, during the Potomac River Festival, she will be captained—for the first time in her long life—by a woman.

There are approximately 41,300 ship and boat captains and operators in the United States. According to the Census Bureau, 91.4% of them are male.

That statistic puts Rose DiMatteo in a unique group of pioneering women. DiMatteo is the captain of Edna E. Lockwood, a 130-year-old sailboat owned by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM), which is making its way around the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River this summer. A National Historic Landmark, Edna is the last of more than 600 workingbugeyes in the world.

A native of Wellington, Florida, Captain DiMatteo has vast nautical experience. She’s served as a crew member on tall ships like Sultana (where she served as first mate), Lynx, Coaster II, and Spirit of Independence. She was assistant director of paddling programs for the Sultana Education Foundation in Chestertown, Md.; an educator and deck hand for the Lynx Educational Foundation in Nantucket, Mass; and holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-Ton Master’s License with an Auxiliary Sailing Endorsement.

Her background as an educator and sailor made her the ideal choice to captain Edna.

“Rose’s background with tall ships and experiential education made her a natural fit to captain this project, bringing Edna Lockwood to ports around the Bay as an ambassador of CBMM and our mission, to preserve and explore the history, environment, and culture of the entire Chesapeake Bay region, and make this resource available to all,” said Kristen Greenaway, president of CBMM, located in St. Michaels, Maryland.

Edna Lockwood's female boat captain

Photo courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

Edna E. Lockwood’s journey this summer is part of a heritage tour partly funded by the National Park Service, which is designed to commemorate the boat’s two-year restoration of her nine-log loblolly pine hull. Built in 1889 by John B. Harrison for Daniel W. Haddaway, and launched October 5, 1889 on Tilghman Island, Edna dredged for oysters on the Chesapeake Bay through winter, and carried freight—such as lumber, grain, and produce—after the dredging season ended. She worked faithfully for many owners, mainly out of Cambridge, Maryland, until she stopped “drudging” in 1967.

Captain DiMatteo is passionate about the outdoors and teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly. A graduate of Brevard College in North Carolina, with a Bachelor of Arts in wilderness leadership and experiential education, she served as an activity counselor for Camp Highlander in Mills River, N.C., rock climbing and kayaking instructor, and trainer for Leave No Trace, a national organization dedicated to protecting the outdoors.

“Edna Lockwood is the first historic vessel I’ve captained. It’s a big deal for me,” said DiMatteo. “I can’t wait for us to get underway and begin sharing Edna’s story with more people who have their own tangible connections to the Chesapeake Bay.”

One stop on the tour is in Colonial Beach, Virginia (CBVA). Edna will docked at Town Pier Friday, June 7 through Sunday, June 9, during the town’s Potomac River Festival. Visitors will be allowed to tour the ship’s deck free of charge, daily from 10 a.m. to 4 pm., and talk with crew members about traditional Chesapeake Bay boatbuilding techniques and the oystering industry past and present.

To learn more about Edna and keep up with her tour, visit