Since September 2010, this blog has attempted to give insight into the experiences of several ordinary women who lead extraordinary lives while living at sea during the nineteenth century. However, between March 14-19, not one of the wives we have followed over the past few years made any journal entries: Mary Brewster, 1848; Mary Lawrence, 1859; Eliza Williams, 1861. Hence, I thought this a perfect time to offer an additional opportunity for blog-visitors and loyal subscribers alike, to better understand the size of the physical space inhabited by each woman for an average of three years.
To provide a clearer understanding of the accompanying descriptions of that living space, a sketch and pictures have been provided and are based upon the Main and After Cabins of the Charles W. Morgan (1841-1921). Please note that the sketch is by no means to scale, but is typical of most 19th-century whaling vessels. However, the sketch does provide an accompanying visual for the photos and written descriptions that will follow over the next five days.
The Main and After cabins were inhabited by the captain, his wife and/or family, and the top three officers. These cabins were the primary living space for those persons. To familiarize you with a few ship’s terms: “Forward” or “Bow” refers to the front of the ship, while “Stern” or “After/Aft” refers to the back of the vessel. When facing the bow of the ship, “Port” refers to the left-hand side of the ship while “Starboard” means the right-hand side of the ship.
Aboard the Charles W. Morgan the First, Second and Third Officers sleeping quarters are on the port side of the ship. The First Officer (or Mate) had a private cabin, while the Second and Third Mates shared a cabin. The captain’s private cabins included his After Cabin (think a combination Parlor and Study) and was at the very back of the ship. Captain’s sleeping quarters (or Stateroom), or After-Starboard cabin is accessible from the Main Cabin and his After Cabin (Study). Below is a sketch of the Main and After Cabin of the Charles W Morgan. The areas highlighted in blue indicate the captain’s (and Mrs.) PRIVATE quarters; the areas highlighted with yellow are the quarters (bunkrooms) of the three officers; and green areas are shared among the captain, his wife and the three officers. All furnishings (furniture) were built-in: from the bunks and double bed, to the desk, sofa, galley table and benches, dresser and storage, etc..
Please accept my apologies for the “amateurish” drawing’; an artist I am NOT (as evidenced by this diagram).
From March 15th through March 19th, I will provide a “guided tour” so-t0-speak, aboard a typical 19th-century whaling vessel. The blog posts will include several interior photos (taken by me) of the Charles W. Morgan, accompanied by descriptions of the “‘teen decks” (main living quarters) as described by Joan Druett (She Was a Sister Sailor) and Henrietta Deblois (whaling wife of John S. Deblois) aboard the Merlin during 1856.