Parker becomes new Sternwheeler captain

The Columbia Gorge’s first woman captain is no newcomer to the 20-year-old vessel

From staff reports

Captains Randy Holmstrom and Tom Cramblett announced that Captain Misty Parker is now at the helm after 10 years aboard ship.

Parker, 26, has served on the Sternwheeler “Columbia Gorge” since 1993 and is the first woman to acquire the rank of chief officer.

She came to the Sternwheeler as a lifelong resident of the Gorge, hailing from Carson, Wash. During her 10 years on the job, Parker has steadily worked her way up from deckhand to a captain that is licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard.

When Chuck Daughtry, port manager, first met Parker she was working on the engine of the paddlewheel replica. A few days later he came back on board to find her mixing drinks for customers at the bar.

“She is one of the most versatile employees that we have, I don’t think there is anything she couldn’t do on the sternwheeler,” Daughtry said.

But that is no surprise given the fact that it is the only place that Parker has ever worked. She was excited to be hired as a dishwasher at the age of 16 — and continues to look forward to each day on the river. In fact, she said it has taken a long time to work her way up to the top spot because being a captain offers so much variety that there is rarely a turnover.

“It’s a great opportunity for on-the-job training, there aren’t many jobs like this,” she said.

Parker’s experience also includes working on a NOAA ship in Alaska, plying the Willamette River on the Crystal Dolphin, as well as cruising on Lake Tahoe.

She and her husband, Rob, live in North Bonneville with their 2-year-old daughter Maysun — who loves to visit mom at work.

“Misty brings enthusiasm and a fresh approach to her position and it has been fun for Tom and I to watch a young captain learn the ropes.

“It makes us remember how we were when we started out,” said Holmstrom, a 23-year veteran who is also the operations manager.

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