Monday, 9 June 2014

Masters and Mates

"Men go back to the mountains, as they go back to sailing ships at sea,
              because in the mountains and on the sea they must face up."
                         ~ Henry David Thoreau

My husband always loved the sea and decided he wanted to learn to sail. He took lessons, read lots of books on everything from navigation to offshore sailing, and went sailing every chance he got.  He learned about all the rigging, the motor, the sails and got the latest charts on CDs. He loved that he could see many beautiful spots only seen from the water. He sailed all the local waters in all kinds of weather until he earned his certificate and decided he was ready.  Time to sail to Hawaii.  So he set out with a friend the beginning of May. Once around the Cape they were following the coast line about 200 km offshore, with pretty rough seas. When they left the coast and angled away for Hawaii, they ran into 3 days of terrible storms, leaving them feeling queasy, but no time to rest or stop.  The boat handled as it should and they made it to Hawaii in 27 days. They faced up!

He always thought he should have been a pilot of a big ship, or at least a ferry. If your ancestor piloted a ship after 1850 it was compulsory to get a Masters and Mates certificate. Before 1845 it would be a Seamen and Seamen’s tickets you would be looking for. Most Masters and Mates will have seen service as an apprentice or ordinary seaman before getting his Certificate. The Sessional Papers of Canada, under Marine and Fisheries, have lists of those who earned their certificates. Also search for crew lists or ship logbook.

Certificate of competency as Extra Master for Edward Smith (of the Titanic)

You will find links to a couple of logbooks below - one being that of the William Baylies (Steam bark), of San Francisco, Calif., mastered by Hartson H. Bodfish, kept by Hartson H. Bodfish, on voyage from 10 Mar. 1906-7 Nov. 1906 The logbook is described as follows:
Log, kept by Hartson H. Bodfish, relating to a whaling voyage to the North Pacific Ocean; 1906 March 10-1906 Nov. 6; Includes descriptions of types of whales (bowhead, finback, killer, sperm, white), seals, and walrus seen or taken, death at sea, shipboard medicine, smoked ship to kill rats, and the arrest of Captain Bodfish for murder; and inventory of whale oil and bone. Other places represented include Dutch Harbor and Nome.
Some of the logbooks or journals of ships have names of the crew. Also search for crew lists, ship logbook, ship jounal, and slave ships.

Relevant Links:

Logbook of the Helen Snow (Bark) of New Bedford, Mass., mastered by George H. Macomber, on voyage 17 Oct. 1871-19 Aug. 1872 (abandoned in Arctic)

Manual of the Examination of Masters and Mates - Canada 1875 (Plus Leading Lights, 
Almanac of stars and tides, and small appendice in french)

Masters and Mates Certifiates online at Ancestry UK $

Log of the Volunteer 1817 (Voyage from Boston to China and back)

Logbook of the Nimrod on voyage from 18 Sept. 1857-14 July 1861

Logbook of the William Baylies mastered by Hartson H. Bodfish 1906

Journal of Captain Cook's last voyage to the Pacific Ocean 1781

Royal naval biography, or, Memoirs of the services of all the flag-officers, superannuated rear-admirals, retired-captains, post-captains and commanders [microform] : whose names appeared on the admiralty list of sea-officers at the commencement of the year 1823, or who have since been promoted : illustrated by a series of historical and explanatory notes, which will be found to contain an account of all the naval actions, and other important events, from the commencement of the late reign, in 1760 to the present period : with copious addenda.

1 comment:

  1. Your post immediately appealed to me, as my husband’s ancestors were Master Mariners, sailing from South Shields in north east England. I found both Tyne and Wear Archives and the National Archives very useful in giving me details of the ships they sailed on, where they sailed too and the hazards they faced. Thank you for sharing yiur Canadian research.


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