Work

Charles at the Wheel

One of the crew members, Charles, steers the bark Carrie Winslow of Portland. The vessel typically carried lumber to Argentina and returned with a cargo of hides for making leather. The photograph was taken by the captain's daughter, Ruth Montgomery in 1898.

Baby on Shipboard with a Seaman who is Repairing a Sail

Some documents suggest that the baby might be Joanna Colcord, from Searsport, who was born at sea in the South Pacific in 1882.

Bos'n or Boatswain aboard Ship

The bos'n or boatswain was in charge of maintenance of the rigging on shipboard. Sun and tar stain his hands. Clothing is nothing special; the look of loose wrinkled wool or cotton seems strange today. Sometimes the bos'n was also a third mate.

Steward aboard Ship

The steward was in charge of the captain's cabin and managing provisions. On a large ship, he oversaw the cook's work. If the captain's family was aboard, sometimes there was a stewardess, occasionally the wife of the steward. In the late nineteenth century, the steward was often from China or India.

Carpenter and Cook aboard Ship

A carpenter and a cook aboard ship. The carpenter holds his plane, while the cook has on an apron and holds a pan. The carpenter on a larger ship did not stand watch but helped handle the ship when needed. The cook was paid more than most crew members, but had a very long day of work, from about 5 or 6 in the morning till around 8 in the evening, preparing food and hot coffee for the two watches of the crew in addition to the captain and any family and mates. The cook also helped out when needed in ship operations, though he did not stand a watch.

Crew Taking up New Topsail on the Bark Carrie Winslow

The crew climbs the rigging, going up the ratlines, as they bring up a new topsail to be "bent on" or attached to the yard. The photograph was taken by the captain's daughter, Ruth Montgomery, aboard the bark Carrie Winslow in 1898.

Boatbuilder Gus Skoog at Planer

Gus Skoog built more than 80 boats, mostly lobster boats measuring more than 28 feet long, and another 30 smaller boats. He worked from the 1950s to the 1970s in his Vinalhaven shop. He worked until he was 88.

Hemp Rope Rigging Sample

Sample of hemp rope rigging, used for standing rigging before wire rope came into use. It is four strand rope, which stretches less than the more common three strand. This sample has been "wormed;" the depressions between lays of the line filled with smaller marline. This creates a smooth surface for wrapping the rope with canvas strips to make it watertight, a process called "parcelling." The last step is wrapping the parcelling with tightly wrapped marline or "serving" it.

Hawsing Iron

Hawsing iron, used in shipbuilding for caulking seams, particularly deck seams. The long handle allowed one caulker to stand holding the iron while another drove the caulking home using a two-handed mallet. The caulking had been previous set in place using a small mallet and a hand-held iron. Deck seams are especially difficult to caulk and keep tight as the sun dries out and shrinks decks.

Caulking, Tools and Method

This diagram shows how a seam between planks of a ship are caulked with oakum, which is forced into the seam with a caulking iron. Four or more strands of caulking may be needed to fill the seam. There are different widths of caulking irons which are used depending on the width of the seam and how deep the caulking is driven.

This image is from Basil Greenhill and Sam Manning, The Evolution of the Wooden Ship, 1988, p. 154. Used by permission of the artist, Sam Manning.

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