Eight Bells: Virginia A. Wagner

Captain Virginia A. Wagner passed away on Friday January 30, 2015 in Newport, Rhode Island, following a courageous battle with mesothelioma cancer.

Captain Virginia A. Wagner passed away on Friday January 30, 2015 in Newport, Rhode Island, following a courageous battle with mesothelioma cancer. As was Virginia’s style, she faced this aggressive incurable disease like so many storms at sea. She navigated through a “hurricane” of treatments and two major surgeries in an effort to enjoy a quality of life with her family.

Virginia was amongst an elite sorority of professional female captains and spent much of her 28 year career in command of traditional sailing vessels. Holding both a 3,000 ton USCG and MCA Ocean Master, Virginia logged over 400,000 nautical miles — and was always quick to add “most of those miles were navigated by sextant.”

Virginia possessed a natural expertise and passion for both traditional sail training and celestial navigation. Early in her career Virginia worked as mate on 135' Corwith Cramer and the 125' Westward and after obtaining her captains license advanced to command the vessels 90' Ocean Star, 125' schooner Galaxy, 158' Clipper City, and 140' Schooner America replica.

Although traditional sailing vessels always remained Virginia's passion she continued to upgrade her license and captained private and charter yachts including Matau, True North, Aria, Moonlight II, Shiwara, and Coro Coro. During her career Virginia was a mentor to many, many crew who continued on to successful maritime and yachting careers.

In 2012 Virginia dropped anchor in Newport, RI and joined the Nicholson Yachts Charter Management team. She will be missed terribly by sailing friends and colleagues all over the world.

In honor of Virginia’s fervent belief in the life changing attributes of Traditional Sail Training, memorial donations may be made to the Virginia A. Wagner Youth Sail Training Scholarship Fund with Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island.

Billy Black