Captain William S. (“Will”) Gates is the “Maritime Curator” at the Historic St. Mary’s CityMuseum, but is better known for his main responsibility as the skipper of the replica ship Maryland Dove. He has served in this capacity since 1989, having previously worked on the Mayflower replica in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and for several years in the educational windjammer trade. Will is also an Adjunct Professor of History at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he co-teaches a course on the maritime history of the Chesapeake, with a practicum in “tall-ship seamanship”.
Captain Gates got started with ships apprenticing as a rigger at Mystic Seaport Museum, where he became interested in history as well as the sailing and rigging trades. Captain Gates graduated with high honors from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he studied Geography and Archaeology. The relationships between culture, technology, and resources, and how this changed landscapes were special interests. While in college Will attended Archaeology Field School at Old Sturbridge Village, served as their first Archaeology Intern, and then volunteered as an excavation supervisor for two additional summers. After graduation Mr. Gates was a collaborator and co-author of a multi-disciplinary study: “The Cultural Resources of Historic Phoenixville”, providing base maps, and landscape and resource analysis for the study. From 1978 to 1984 Gates alternated between educational sailing and historic rigging projects, including several trips along the East Coast from Maine to the Caribbean aboard Schooner Harvey Gamage with the “Seamester” program, Southern New England cruises with Schooner Rachael & Ebenezer, and built a new rig for the 1877 iron bark Elissain Galveston, Texas. In 1984, with family “on the way” Captain Gates took a position as Chief Rigger aboard the Mayflower II in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Now residing in Great Mills, Maryland, Will and his wife Tara Gates have three grown children and participate in several educational and environmental activities in the Southern Maryland community.