Forty Years at Sea

Clara Pendleton Blanchard (1843-1931), wife of Captain William H. Blanchard, spent a lifetime at sea. She sailed aboard four different vessels with her father and later nine more with her husband. She enjoyed one of the longest documented lives at sea, covering a period of 40 years.

Clara Pendleton Blanchard Captain William H. Blanchard

Clara was one of five sisters to marry sea captains. She was twenty when she and Captain William Blanchard were married on October 28, 1863, and they spent their first year together aboard the ship Bosphorus. Their first daughter was born in Valencia, Spain in 1864. Over the next 19 years this seagoing family would add seven more children with all but three born on board a ship somewhere around the world. Sadly, two of those babies also died aboard the ships of their birth. Four of her sons would go on to become masters of their own vessels.

During the last voyage of the Bosphorus, Clara became ill and was sent home aboard another vessel from Pernambuco, Brazil. The Bosphorus was damaged and surveyed at Valencia, Spain in 1865, but Captain Blanchard went on to command eight other vessels with Clara by his side, bearing and raising their family.

After “coming ashore,” Captain Blanchard took one last passage on the bark Willard Mudgett in 1904, with their son Frederick as captain. Clara remained at home in Searsport. Here, she heard the news that she had lost both a son and her husband: the Willard Mudgett had been lost with no survivors.

Bark Willard Mudgett