Captain William Shorey, also known as “The Black Ahab” was a respected entrepreneur and whaling captain in the 19th Century. He was the first African-American captain of a sea vessel on the west coast. A native of Barbados, he was the son of a Scottish sugar planter and a mother who was both African and West Indian.
Captain Shorey became a seaman to escape from the pressures of racism and depression. In 1880, he sailed aboard the British Vessel, the Emma F. Herriman, where he was taught navigation. He soon became an officer in a few short years. British and Scandinavian ships were the only places in which a black man could be employed to an equal level of their white counterparts.