May 17, 2024 - Culture

Bill Pinkney honored in Maritime Museum exhibit

Illustration that shows a man with the name Captain Bill Pinkney

Image courtesy of the Chicago Maritime Museum; artist Pamela Rice

History-making sailor Bill Pinkney died last summer, but his legacy lives on in a new exhibition at the Chicago Maritime Museum in the Bridgeport Art Center.

Why it matters: Pinkney (ex-husband of author and cook Ina Pinkney) was the first Black sailor to circumnavigate the globe around the five great capes.

  • In Chicago in 1977 he bought his 26-foot boat, which helped develop his sailing passion, Ina says.

What they're saying: "Because friends promised to show up on a Sunday [to sail] and never did, I suggested that he figure out how to re-rig the boat so he could sail it alone," Ina tells Axios.

  • "He did it and became known as the Lone Ranger and did all of the single-handed races around Lake Michigan."

If you go: The exhibit includes video interviews with Bill Pinkney and an interactive map of the path he took around the world.

  • The museum will hold an opening ceremony tonight at 6pm in the Bridgeport Art Center sculpture garden. You can register here.

The big picture: Opened in 2016, the Maritime Museum takes visitors on "a chronological walk through local maritime history including eras of French fur traders, sail and steam powered vessels, modern commercial Great Lakes frigats, recreational sailing and the Ralph and Rita Frese canoe collection," according to organizers.

  • The museum has also just opened an exhibition focusing on the 1860 Lady Elgin disaster, which was the deadliest on the open waters of the Great Lakes.
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