Life at Sea

SS La Provence, 1905 || Charles Verne (active ca. 1890-1910) || paper, ink


Family life at sea: it was not uncommon for the ship’s Master to bring his family aboard. With many voyages lasting months or years, the only way to keep the family together was to bring them on the journey. The captain’s family lived aft, in the cabins off the saloon, and dined with the captain. Children were occasionally born at sea and, in these cases, often spent their formative years away from land.

While captains’ wives typically had on official duties, there are a number of examples of women aboard ships learning navigation, and in one case even taking command of the ship when the captain fell ill.


The ship’s wheel is located here so as to be mechanically close to the rudder, which is directly underneath the gear box. The gear box contains the worm gear and mechanisms that connect the wheel to the rudder. This wheel, which is original to Wavertree, is unusual for its odd number of spokes.


The poop deck, also called the quarterdeck, is the raised deck in the stern of the ship. The term ”poop deck” has its roots in the French word for the stern, la poupe – and not in what you thought (I did too)…


Touring the 1885 tall ship Wavertree, flagship of the Seaport Museum fleet.

South Street Seaport Museum

June 15th, 2019

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