Life at Sea

Sea Chest Belonging to Anne Atherton Starrett

Anne Atherton Starrett spent many of her early years sailing with her family. Her father was Captain Henry Starrett of Belfast, and her mother was Ellen Mary Starrett. This chest is made of wood with a canvas cover and stenciled with Anne's initials.

Asian "Roly Poly" Doll

This papier mache toy belonged to Anne Atherton Starrett, daughter of Captain Henry Atherton Starrett of Belfast, and his wife Ellen Mary Cutter Starrett. The painted toy came from Hong Kong or another Asian port, when Anne was a child.

W. R. Gilkey Family aboard Ship

This photo shows the family of Captain W. R. Gilkey (left). The woman is his wife, Georgia P. Sawyer Gilkey, and one of the little girls is Georgia Maria, who later married another Searsport captain, Phineas Banning Blanchard and sailed with him for many years.

Model of the Ship Frank N. Thayer

This model was built by Captain Henry A. Starrett of Belfast aboard ship. Construction took 7 years and was done at sea while serving as Master of the Thayer and the Levi G. Burgess. The model has carved ivory fittings and silk and wire rigging. Starrett was the master of the Frank N. Thayer from 1874-1878. The vessel was the first one of that name, built for Thayer & Lincoln, a Boston firm, in Kennebunkport in 1868. A 1160 ton vessel, she was succeeded by a larger 1648 ton vessel of the same name built in Newburyport in 1878.

A View of Cape Stephens in Cook's Straits, New Zealand, with Waterspout

This 1776 painting by William Hodges is from The Great Age of Sail: Maritime Art and Photography. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1986. (Collections of Penobscot Marine Museum)


Topsey Sitting by House

Topsey was the Montgomery's' dog, who had her own dog house on deck. Pets were very common at sea. The photograph was taken by the captain's daughter aboard the bark Carrie Winslow.

Single Block

Single-sheave block with hook spliced into the becket ( the rope ring around the block), used aboard ship.

Ship's Wheel

Ship's steering wheel, with ten spokes and a brass hub. Diameter of the outer rim is 46 inches. This is a typical steering wheel for a Down Easter.

Ship's Clock

Seth Thomas ship's clock, strikes up to eight bells, every four hours.

Bells are rung evey half hour starting at 30 minutes after the hour: 12:30 is one bell, 1pm is 2 bells, until 4 pm is reached at 8 bells. The sequence is started again.

The half hour interval dates to when time was measured with a half hour sand or hour glass. The glass would be turned over every half an hour and a sailor would ring a bell which could be heard all over ship.

Watches change every four hours at eight bells.

Ship's Bell

Ship's bell with clapper and lanyard, from the vessel Evelyn. Bell is 11" high and 11" in diameter. While there were dozens of vessels named Evelyn, this bell came from a Searsport family and may well have been aboard a Searsport built bark, Evelyn, built in 1851.

Bells were used aboard ship to mark every half hour, with eight bells every four hours marking the change in watches.


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