CAPCA History

In the winter of 1989, a small group of Coast Guard-licensed captains joined together and charted the course for a new organization, to be called the Chesapeake Area Professional Captains Association, or CAPCA.

The mariners, all graduates of an independent captain's-license course taught by Captain Bill Conklin, wanted to maintain the friendships they'd made as students and start networking together to help build each others' businesses.

By any measure, it was an unusual step, particularly in an industry whose members were by nature so independent and competitive. The idea was for the new organization to help provide members with job opportunities, continuing education courses, guest speakers, networking opportunities, and field trips intended to enhance their professional development.

The captains began meeting more frequently at Marmaduke's Restaurant and the Fleet Reserve Club in Annapolis. CAPCA was formally established in May, 1990, with Captain Conklin as its first president. It was formally incorporated in March, 1992. 

That original mission continues today, and CAPCA has grown to some 300 members, who hold licenses ranging from Operator of an Uninspected Passenger Vessel (six-pack) to unlimited all-oceans. In addition, the organization has been expanded to include public-service activities such as supporting the annual Safety at Sea conference sponsored by the Maritime Trades Association of Maryland and the springtime Marine and Maritime Career Fair sponsored by the Eastport Yacht Club Foundation, which traditionally is held at Annapolis Senior High School.

Our growth has been steady and gratifying. Our jobs program has become a service, for both our members and the maritime community. Our continuing education program is growing and is expected to offer a wider variety of courses - some of them available to non-members as well. Our speakers program has drawn top-level experts from government and the industry alike. We've added more field trips, tours, and other events for members and their guests. We've increased the number of member discounts offered by maritime-related businesses and organizations. And we've expanded the Ship's Store.

As a volunteer organization, CAPCA has always relied on the talent and contributions of its members to expand and improve. We're proud to say that, even in an industry that traditionally has been dominated by men, women in CAPCA have found both the opportunity and the drive to become a major influence in the way we operate and in what we achieve.

In 2015 and 2016, CAPCA President Karen M. Holcomb and the organization's Board of Directors launched a major rebranding and upgrading program that included the creation of a new logo and a new website, and major improvements in all its key programs. You can see the results of this continuing effort by surfing through this website.


Bill Conklin                   1989
Richard Dein                1990-1994
Bill Harrison                 1995
Frank Courtney            1996
Stefan Leader              1997
George Szego             1998
Mike Bagley                 1999- 2000
George Ford                2001- 2002
Mary Ann DeGraw       2002- 2004
David Abt                     2005- 2006
Tony Carey                  2007
Ken Binnix                   2008- 2010
Ken Appleton               2011- 2013
Karen M. Holcomb       2014-2016
Bill Washington            2017- 2021