Women at Sea, Cont.

Most crews tolerated, if not welcomed captains' wives. Some, however, believed that having a woman on board was bad luck. More than a few discontented crewmen even saw the wives and children as competition for the limited deck space and supply of food while at sea. Others resented the distractions and disruptions the captain's family might cause to the work routines. They worried that the voyage might last even longer as a consequence.

Though they did not feel the need to take their crew's opinions into account, the captains worried about what the ships' owners, who were their employers, might say about bringing their wives along. With families on board, fears that the captain would neglect his nautical duties were real.

As a way of recruiting the most successful captains many owners allowed families of masters to go along on voyages between 1830 and 1900. After the events of the ice disaster in September 1871, however, some owners forbade women and children to be with their husbands in the Arctic Ocean. The owners feared that the captains would focus more on their families' safety than they would on the profits of the voyages.

next page >

image of earles_cwmorgan_mystic

Mystic Seaport