Deceased , Modern




1934 - 2020

Upon her induction as a member of the Storm Trysail Club, Commodore Butch Ullmer said, “This woman is long overdue in becoming a member of this “man’s” club because she has wrung more salt water out of her socks than most of you have sailed over!”

Louise Kevin Burke was a nationally known sailor, well-regarded and respected by the U.S. sailing community and beyond.  She was a pioneer in the acceptance of women into the professional sailing ranks, just as she was instrumental in promoting safety issues and storm survival at sea.  In her over 35 years of professional sailing experience, Louise exemplified the highest ideals of responsibility, safety and preparation in all the crews and sailors whose lives she touched.

Her first employment was in computer sciences before she was blown into her career on the oceans, teaching and mentoring sailors of all types, from kids to retirees, competitive ocean racers to novice sailors. Her love of the sea and unique ability to get people to just ‘do, do, do’ (in her words) gave her a natural charisma to which people gravitated and sought advice. An extensive traveler, when Louise was not sailing the world, she was otherwise travelling the world, including trips to Antarctica and the South Pole.

In her memoir notes she writes, “I have led my life by the words of Robert Frost in ‘The Road not Taken’:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And-sorry I could not take them both…

… I took the one less traveled by

And that has made all the difference.

Accomplishments and Honors

  • 1966 – Louise began crewing and skippering professionally on sailboats in New England and Caribbean
  • 1972 – After her husband’s untimely death, she began skippering large sailing vessels on ocean voyages covering the North Atlantic from Newfoundland to England to Trinidad
  • 1973- Obtained her 100-ton Coast Guard license in a time when it was almost unheard of for women to achieve such milestones
  • Has accomplished 4 trans-Atlantic crossings
  • 1972 -1977 – Skippered and crewed aboard all types of sailing vessels, logging as much as 15,000 miles/year of open ocean
  • 1976 – First woman sailing coach at the U.S Naval Academy (USNA), then the largest sailing program in the world, hired by CAPT Alexander Bell Grosvenor. This was also the first-year women were admitted to the Academy.
  • 1977 – First woman to be designated ‘officer-in-charge’ to take a Navy sailing vessel offshore. In 1977 she logged over 9500 miles aboard the 82’ Herreshoff schooner ‘MISTRAL.’  In that trip, she led the 12-person crew representing the U.S. Navy Queen Elizabeth II’s 25th Silver Jubilee Naval Review.
  • 1977-1980 – For four years Louise led midshipmen on ‘MISTRAL’, averaging 8000 miles per trip.
  • Using her 100-ton license, she made numerous deliveries around the world, including all over the East Coast, Bermuda, Nova Scotia, Croatia, Sardinia and Amalfi Coast (Italy), and the ABC islands in the Carribbean, amongst many locations.
  • An avid scuba diver, she preferred diving from sailing vessels – Great Barrier Reef, Fiji, South America, Sipadan and the Maldives, Alaska, New Zealand, Tasmania, Hawaii, and the ABC Islands in the Caribbean
  • Tireless racer and cruiser all over the Chesapeake Bay and the East Coast
  • 1986 – Accepted as member of Explorers Club
  • 1997 – Second woman inducted into the Storm Trysail Club; verified by Butch Ullmer, STC’s Membership Committee Chairman
  • Coach, teacher, and member, Singles on Sailboats (SoS)
  • Long-term member, Annapolis to Bermuda Race Committee; Chaired the Safety Committee
  • Charter member, Eastport Yacht Club, Annapolis, Md
  • 1997, joined Explorers’ Club
  • 2011 – 2020, Board Member, Explorers’ Club
  • Publications in which articles were written about Louise Burke include
    • People Magazine, May 23, 1977
    • Yachts and Yachting, July 8, 1977
    • Soundings, June, 1977
    • Daily News, Oct 5, 1977
    • Sailing, Oct, 1977
    • The Washington Post, June 23, 1978
    • Nautical Quarterly, Issue #6, Spring 1979)
    • Sail Magazine, April 1984
    • Sunday Capital, 1987
    • Sunday Capital, 1992
    • Capital Gazette, 2002

For additional resume information, see pdf: Burke, Louise additional resume information

Louise Burke’s obituary,vprinted in The Capital Gazette, June 24, 2020 : Burke, Louise Capital Gazzette obituary



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