Ferry boat Captain loves being on the water - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Ferry boat Captain loves being on the water

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Marybeth Ray works in the pilot house of the "MV Southport," one of the two ferry vessels that make the daily run between Southport and Fort Fisher. Marybeth Ray works in the pilot house of the "MV Southport," one of the two ferry vessels that make the daily run between Southport and Fort Fisher.
Of the nearly 60 Captains in the North Carolina Ferry System, just three are women. Of the nearly 60 Captains in the North Carolina Ferry System, just three are women.

FORT FISHER, NC (WECT) – Of the nearly 60 Captains in the North Carolina Ferry System, just three are women, including the Captain of one of the Fort Fisher-Southport ferries.

Marybeth Ray works in the pilot house of the "MV Southport," one of the two ferry vessels that make the daily run between Southport and Fort Fisher.

As a military brat, Ray's family moved a lot, including spending a lot of time in the Bahamas.

"My dad moved the family to the Bahamas when I was twelve years old, and that kind of set the tone for my life," said Ray.

That where she ran a marina, became a civilian employee and even, while in high school, earned the rank of Boat Captain.

She moved to our area and got a job with the Ferry Division, and spent seven years as a deckhand and promoted to assistant Captain.  In 2003, she became the Fort Fisher-Southport ferry route's first female Captain.

"They rarely hire Captains off the street, usually our work force starts as a mate, or a deckhand, and works their way up", said Ray.

With the winter schedule in effect, the ferry employees report for work 12.5 hour days, seven days on, and then seven days off.  Although that schedule works for her, Ray says it may be one of the reasons why there are not more women working on the boats.

"Women being down here, or, you know, parents with young children working down here, because we basically disappear from life for seven days at a time," explained Ray.

And because she is the female captain of the "MV Southport," some passengers bring that up.

"Quite often, from women, they will look up and I will see a big two thumbs up from them," said Ray.  "But I think people are still surprised to see a woman on the bridge."

And Ray is even on the water during her time away from the ferry.  She operates a standup paddleboard business in the Southport harbor on her days off.

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