Award Recipients

Capt. Walter Rybka

Capt. Walter Rybka

Erie Maritime Museum
Senior Captain, U.S. Brig Niagara & Site Administrator

Award Year: 2012

Rodney N. Houghton Award

The Rodney N. Houghton Award is presented for the best feature article in Sea History in the preceding year. The award is named after Rodney Houghton (1938–2007), a dedicated NMHS trustee and passionate advocate for advancing maritime history education.

Since receiving the Rodney N. Houghton Award in 2012, I continued to work as the senior captain of the US Brig Niagara, sailing as relief captain up to five weeks per season, and also as the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission site administrator for the Erie Maritime Museum.  I stopped sailing in command after 2016, although still as an observer from time to time. I retired from this position as of 7/17/2020.  In 2012 I wrote “The Lake Erie Campaign of 1813,” “I shall fight them this day” and in 2013 orchestrated a re-enactment of the Battle of Lake Erie for Tall Ships America.

In 2014, Doug Prothero, chair of Sail Training International, asked me to participate in creating ISES, the International Sail Endorsement Scheme. This was a project run in the UK by the Nautical Institute to provide a path for sail training ship’s officers to obtain an endorsement for their licenses that would be a meaningful measure of competence as a watch standing officer. A half dozen square rigger masters convened in London for three days at the Nautical Institute to discuss what should be on the written exam, what should be in the oral exam, what constituted a good answer and passing grade, what skills needed to be demonstrated, etc.  After this kick off we exchanged proposed questions and answers for several months by e-mail. A very interesting and stimulating exercise all around.

Categories: Museum Leadership, Ship Captain