Dr. Ray Ashley is Executive Director and Curator of Ships for the San Diego Maritime Museum. Growing up in San Diego, he became director of the San Diego Maritime Museum in 1995, and in the time since has been fortunate to oversee a phenomenal period of growth in that institution. He holds a BA in Anthropology from UCSD, an MA in Maritime History and Museum Studies from East Carolina University, and a PhD in History from Duke University, specializing in the history of science, technology and medicine. He teaches university courses in maritime history, underwater archeology, and museum studies for UCSD and USD. He has published papers in American Neptune and a number of other professional journals, is an author for the American Maritime History Project, and writes a quarterly column for the Maritime Museum's peer reviewed journal Mains'l Haul.
Dr. Ashley has been sailing for most of his life. Since spending his senior year in high school at sea in the oceanographic research schooner Westward he has sailed tens of thousands of miles across oceans in vessels ranging from 25' sloops to big square riggers. Before joining the museum he supervised the construction, restoration, and rigging of several large vessels and taught classroom and underway courses in sailing, navigation, and seamanship. He is a licensed captain for sail, steam and auxiliary vessels of 200 tons domestic (500 tons international) registry, is the Star of India's navigator and sails as relief captain for the other vessels of the Museum's active fleet including the State tallship Californian, steam yacht Medea, and Pilot.
Dr. Ashley is a member of many civic and professional organizations and serves on the Board of the Council of American Maritime Museums, Sea Education Association, North American Society for Oceanic History, Tall Ships America, Cabrillo Festival, and the San Diego Port Tenants Association. Dr. Ashley is also a museums specialist consultant for Northwest Seaport in Seattle, a consultant on ship preservation and interpretation for the National Park Service, and in early 2006 was appointed to First Lady Laura Bush's Preserve America Summit.
He lives in Chula Vista with his wife Carlynn (with whom he sailed a 25' boat through the South Pacific) and daughters Brienne and Neva.