Changing Currents: A Q&A with a Maid of the Mist Captain
Capt. Kaitlynn McHenry is ready for whatever the mighty Niagara throws at her.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would end up working for Maid of the Mist,” Kaitlynn McHenry says of her job with the legendary fleet of Niagara Falls tour boats. McHenry grew up in the nearby Rochester suburbs, but didn’t step aboard a Maid of the Mist boat until she was in her twenties. “I loved the trip and was wildly impressed with the captain’s skill. Little did I know I would be a part of it one day.” In 2021, McHenry became the first female captain in the 177-year history of the Maid of the Mist. “I enjoy my special little place in local history,” she says, “but I would much rather be known for being a skilled captain.”
Here’s McHenry’s close-up view of the Maid of the Mist experience.
VBN: What do you enjoy most about your job?
McHenry: I love the uniqueness of Niagara Falls. Passengers travel thousands of miles to be here and see this. They are struck with wonder and awe when experiencing the Horseshoe Falls. As we pull through the first blast of spray, the screams of joy and excitement always make me smile. I watch people have a once in a lifetime experience every half hour!
VBN: What’s the biggest challenge of your job?
McHenry: The constantly changing currents of the river mean you are always on your toes. Conditions can change completely in the span of even an hour and you have to be ready for whatever the mighty Niagara throws at you.
VBN: What’s it like when your office is one of the wonders of the world?
McHenry: I have a spectacular view! I know just how lucky I am to see the Falls up close and personal every day. When I’m not at the helm, I find myself taking it in like tourist. The grandeur of it all is never lost on me.
VBN: Does all the beauty you’re surrounded by ever get distracting?
McHenry: In all honesty, it is the exact opposite. The job distracts us from the beauty. When we are at the helm it is our job to focus solely on navigation, currents, maneuvering, and all aspects of safety. Without that the guests wouldn’t be able to enjoy the falls in all its wonder. We are tuned in to the vessel and the task at hand in order to allow our passengers to fully revel in the power and majesty of the Falls.