Shipbuilding Auger

Shipbuilding spiral bit auger with crank handle, for drilling holes for treenails ( trunnels) or metal drifts (rods.) A blacksmith would take a auger bit and weld on a handle suited to the depth of hole to be drilled. This type was called a barefoot auger as is did not have the small spurs common to most bits which helped cut fast but risked having the auger go off line on a deep hole.

Poster Advertising Clipper Red Jacket

Poster advertising the clipper ship Red Jacket, reporting its fast voyage from Liverpool to Melbourne, Australia in a record 69 days. Red Jacket was built in Rockland, Maine in 1853, and after her first voyage, a record breaking passage to Liverpool in January 1854, was sold in April to Pilkington & Wilson of Liverpool. They managed her as part of the White Star Line. The White Star Line operated the chief passenger service to Australia and later became one of the main transatlantic lines, the owners of the ill-fated Titanic.

Clipper Flying Cloud Model

Gus Skoog, the Vinalhaven boat builder, also built models. Here is his model of the famous Donald McKay-built clipper ship Flying Cloud, a common subject for model builders.

Fishing schooner Joy

Model of the fishing schooner Joy. This model was built by the lighthouse keeper at Saddleback Ledge in Penobscot Bay. Schooners were the most popular type of sailing vessel used for both inshore and offshore fisheries throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. The model builder did not set his model up with fishing gear.

Octant or Hadley Quadrant

The Hadley quadrant was developed by John Hadley in England and by Thomas Godfrey in Philadelphia, both in 1732. The Hadley design took precedence and became the stock celestial navigation tool well into the 19th century, due to its simplicity and lower price than the more modern sextant. As most celestial navigation in the age of the Down Easter centered around sun sights and occasional lunar distances, there was not great need for owning a more expensive sextant.

Pocket Chronometer or Chronometer Watch

Because the ship’s chronometer was normally stowed in the cabin in a safe and well-supported environment, times for celestial sights were taken from the chronometer watch. To ensure accuracy, the time on the chronometer watch was compared with the time on the ship’s chronometer before and after the sights were taken.

This watch, whose maker may have been active in the 1770s and up to about 1820, belonged to Captain Charles Gordon of Belfast.

Finding a Ship's Position at Sea

Many navigators wanted easier, more accurate methods of determining their position at sea. One of the most important developments in the second half of the nineteenth century was Capt. Thomas H. Sumner's contribution in his book, A New and Accurate Method of Finding a Ship's Position at Sea by Projection on Mercator's Chart. Discovered in 1837, and first published in 1843, by the time of this 1851 Third edition it had become the standard method.

Mechanical Depth Sounder

Mechanical depth sounder, which works like a log, with a spinning impeller measuring depth as it drops through the water column. A release keeps the impeller from turning as the sounder is pulled back up. One gauge measures from 2 to 30 fathoms and the other from 30 to 150 fathoms. Like the patent log, this was also invented by Walker. Patent number 8486 G is engraved on the sounder.

Walker's Harpoon Ship Log

This mechanical log tells the distance the ship sails through the water by recording the number of times the five-finned section of the mechanism turns. The indicator shows nautical miles sailed, in hundreds, tens, and ones. The log was towed astern of the ship and hauled in for readings. Though not perfect, the harpoon log was significantly more accurate than the traditional chip log and sand glass. This instrument was patented September 18, 1866.

Box Chronometer

Box chronometer, used in navigation to find a ship's longitude at sea. Made by T.S. and J.D. Negus, No. 586. An immigrant, Thomas S. Negus began making and selling chronometers in New York in 1848. In 1864, 100 Wall Street was listed as its location, and it became Thomas S. and John D. Negus in 1869. The company continued into the 1960s. Down Easter captains bought these if they could afford them.


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