Tools & Gear

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.


This sextant was owned by Frederick L. Waterhouse. Frederick was born in Searsport in 1841; his four brothers all became ship captains, but he only became a mate. After his service in the Civil War, he settled in Montville, Maine, never becoming a sea captain. His initials are inlaid into the cover of the sextant box, something he could well have done, a not uncommon practice amongst ship officers.

Serving Mallet

Serving mallet, with spools, used in shipbuilding as a rigging tool. The serving is the marline that wraps standing rigging, to protect it from rust and rot. The mallet winds around and around the stay. The marline feeds from the spool and is wrapped tightly around the stay or shroud.

Salmon Weir Diagram

This diagram shows a salmon weir, as typically built in Penobscot Bay around 1880. The salmon weir had multiple pounds (the area which corralled the fish), the final fish pound's floor being set so that it was almost dry at a very low tide. This made it easier to pick up the caught fish.

Salmon weirs were different in design from herring weirs, as they had multiple pounds.

This image is from G. Brown Goode's The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States, 1884-1887, Section I, Plate 271. This book can be found online at NOAA

Sail Loft

Sail loft in Thomaston. With thousands of sailing vessels to be outfitted in Penobscot Bay over the course of the nineteenth century, sailmaking was an important and popular trade. Note the tools used by a sailmaker in the end of the bench. Sail lofts needed much open floor space. One loft had a suspended wood stove in order to heat the space without losing continuous floor space.

Rope Making Machine

This ropemaking machine twists three yarns that then are twisted into a rope. There was a large ropewalk in Castine.

Rockland Sardine Carriers Get Radar

Aboard the Rockland sardine carrier Jacob Pike, the first sardine carrier to get radar, installed shortly after she was built in 1949. She had been designed with a square pilot house to accomodate the then bulky radar units. Looking at the camera is Captain Sherman Lord who sailed her until 1970. To the right is Fran Cassidy who was the electronics installer. The background looks like Camden, Maine.

Photo from Atlantic Fisherman collection..

Replica Nocturnal

This replica of a nocturnal was made by a craftsman in Massachusetts. The nocturnal is used to tell the local time at night. When dials are set for the date, one index arm is lined up with the pointer stars in either Ursa Major or Ursa Minor and the other directly towards the zenith. The time can then be read off the dials. These instruments were used in the 17th century and 18th centuries, in an era where portable watches were too expensive for mariners.

Pulp Hook

A pulp hook was used to pick up an end of a log.


The peavey is used to push and roll logs, both on land and in the water, during log drives. The peavey was invented in 1857 by Joseph Peavey, when he came up with this tool to help break out a logjam on the Penobscot River.


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