Women and the Sea logo
Introduction
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Myths and Mermaids
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Life in Port
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Going to Sea
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Lighthouse Keepers
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Changing Roles for Women
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Women in the Military
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Women in Wartime Production
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Early Yachting and Racing
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Women and the Sea in the 20th Century
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Timeline
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Resources
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In This Chapter

Introduction

Phyllis Sopwith &
Gertrude Vanderbilt
Dawn Riley

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Until the late 1800s, yachting and racing were still considered mainly spectator sports as far as women were concerned. Cartoons and magazine images reinforced the notion that active boating was not quite ladylike—though taking the helm apparently was considered proper. But throughout the twentieth century, women were taking on more active roles in water recreation, sports, and competition, enjoying some of the waterfront pursuits that had been exclusively a male domain.

M. B. "Joe" Carstairs
The Mariners' Museum Research Library and Archives,
Chris-Craft Collection

For several years in the 1920s, oil heiress M. B. "Joe" Carstairs held the world speedboat record in the one-and-a-half-litre class. The press had a field day with this "new type of river girl . . . the foremost motorboat enthusiast in Britain."In 1928, Carstairs planned to race the speedboat Jack Stripes across the Atlantic, setting new speed and distance records along the way, but the boat foundered on its first run. Carstairs continued to race competitively for several years. In 1933 she purchased an island known as Whale Cay in the British West Indies and retired there.







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