Life at Sea

Articles of Agreement, Crew List, August 4, 1874, Ship Frank N.Thayer

The Articles of Agreement is a contract between the ship and the crew, outlining appropriate behavior, wages, length of voyage, and food provided to the crew. This contract is for a voyage from Hong Kong to San Francisco or Portland on the Kennebunkport owned ship Frank N. Thayer in 1874.

The original is about 21" wide and 24" long, so it is a big piece of paper!

Aboard ship Josephus

The ship Josephus was built in Newcastle, Maine in 1876. Three different Searsport captains served as the ship's master, including William Albert Rogers, Phillip Randall Gilkey, and Joseph Henry Park. Some have suggested this picture was of the Park family, but another note suggested that the people in the photo were unidentified shore friends of the first mate. There is a pump organ in the corner and photos are liberally spread out. These would all be put away at sea, when furniture would also be lashed down in a storm.

Carrie Winslow in a Head Wind

The bark Carrie Winslow is sailing in a strong wind off the starboard bow, on the starboard tack. Only the main and fore topsails are shown set in this photo. The photograph was taken by the captain's daughter, Ruth Montgomery.

Why Do We Sing Shanties?

Sea shanties are work songs that helped sailors pull together. They also helped keep up the spirits of the men, particularly after hours of hard work. This movie shows how coordinating pulling makes for more effective work, and it notes that shanties help coordinate pulling by providing a rhythm. We are assisted in this movie by the second graders of Lincolnville Central School. Thanks!


Hauling up the Halyard Demonstration

Hauling up the yard with the halyard took a lot of strength and coordination on a large sailing ship. To help get everyone to haul together, sailors used sea shanties, or work songs of the sea. We demonstrate on Penobscot Marine Museum's Yard-in-the-Yard demonstration model how to raise the sail with the yard to which it is attached. We are assisted by the second grade class at Lincolnville Central School. Thanks!


Furling Sail, Yard in the Yard at Penobscot Marine Museum

Furling a square sail on Penobscot Marine Museum's Yard-in-the-Yard demonstration model and tying a gasket.


Working a Capstan Demonstration

We demonstrate how a capstan works pulling up an anchor or hauling in any other line. The Hyde Windlass Company capstan at Penobscot Marine Museum is similar to that used on many Down Easters in the late nineteenth century.



Five Bells Ringing

The sound of five bells on a ship's clock goes: ding-ding, ding-ding, ding.

Joanna and Lincoln Colcord aboard Clara E. McGilvery

Joanna and Lincoln Colcord were both born at sea, in 1882 and 1883 respectively. This is a picture of them around 1889 when their father, Lincoln Alden Colcord, was captain of the bark Clara E. McGilvery. The photograph was taken by the uncle of the children and the brother-in-law of the captain. The vessel was in Boston awaiting cargo. Her sails have all been stripped and much of her running rigging, the lines that control the sails, have been removed.

Crew Working on Deck in a Storm

Working at sea in the middle of a storm was hard and wet work. Nets were sometimes set outside of the bulwarks to catch seamen to keep them from being swept overboard in a big breaking sea.


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