• John Cabot

    c.1455-1498. Born in Italy as Giovanni Caboto, he migrated to England and became famous for his 1497 voyage from Bristol, landing on what was likely Newfoundland. Cabot was the second European to land in America, after Columbus. Returning the following year with 5 vessels, he and his fleet were lost, except for one vessel that returned early. Of particular importance was his discovery of large quantities of cod.

  • calcify; calcification
    To harden, because of deposit of calcium salts.
  • Gold discovered in California in 1848 led to a rush of people to California in 1849, both trying to find gold and/or providing supplies for miners. People from the East Coast wanted the fastest way to California. This provided a ready market for fast sailing ships, and led to the design of the clippers.
  • A city on the Pacific coast of Peru, across from Isla San Lorenzo (Island of St. Lorenzo.)
  • A thin, plain cotton or linen fabric of fine close weave, usually white.
  • A landmark for early European explorers, in 1602 Bartholomew Gosnold named Cape Cod for the large number of cod he found off this Cape. Gosnold was on a voyage looking for trading opportunities and fishing grounds. The name "Cape Cod" was one of the things that attracted the Pilgrims in 1620. Cape Cod has been the site of many wrecks of coasting schooners.
  • A cape on the south east Atlantic coast of Brazil, east of Rio de Janeiro.
  • The southern tip of South America, the main obstacle to sailing west to the Pacific. The wind blows hard from the west, and vessels could take weeks to get around the Cape, into the Pacific Ocean.
  • The southern tip of Africa. European discovery was by the Portuguese Bartolomeu Dias in 1488. The Dutch East India Company established a base there in 1652 which became a Dutch Colony.
  • The easternmost point on Tierra del Fuego.
  • Sailors' nickname for Cape Horn.
  • A machine used on board ship to provide mechanical power to raise the anchor, hoist yards, or lift heavy weights. The capstan consists of a cast-steel barrel mounted on a vertical spindle and smallest in diameter around the middle, to allow for the rope to wind up or down as the capstan is turned. At the top of the barrel, capstan bars are fitted into slots (pigeon holes) to allow sailors to turn the capstan.
  • The removable bars at the top of the capstan. Their length varies from 5 to 6.5 feet. Also called handspikes.
  • The chief officer in charge of all aspects of a vessel. Also known as the master.
  • On a lobster, the part of the exoskeleton or shell that extends from the eyes to the tail covering the thorax where the lungs and digestive organs are located.
  • Cleansing and disentangling fibers prior to spinning, using stiff brush-like surfaces on cards.
  • ship's carpenter
    In merchant sailing days, a petty officer responsible for maintenance of all the ship's boats, spars, masts, hull, and fixed rigging; also responsible for plugging any shot holes with special wooden plugs. The ship's carpenter is often nicknamed "Chips." A carpenter or ship's carpenter can work in a shipyard also, building vessels.
  • Art and science of making maps and charts, graphic representations of geographic areas.
  • Kerosene packed in five-gallon cans, two cans to a wooden case.
  • barrel
    Barrel-shaped vessel made up of staves, headings, and hoops, usually to hold liquids.
  • A type of soap made from olive oil from the Castile region of Spain. This soap has been mentioned in histories dating back 4 - 5,000 years.
  • caulking, corking
    To drive oakum or cotton into the seams of a vessel's deck or sides, to make it watertight. After the oakum is driven in with a caulking iron or mallet, the seam is "payed" or coated with hot pitch or other compound to prevent the oakum from rotting.
  • Used to drive caulking material into the gaps between the vessel's planking.
  • mallet
    Used to hit the caulking iron, to drive caulking material into gaps between a vessel's planking.
  • The inside planking of a ship.
  • equinoctal
    The intersection of the plane of earth's equator with the celestial sphere marks the celestial equator. It is half way between the north and south celestial poles.
  • Using the sun, moon, stars, and planets to find your location.
  • In celestial navigation, sight reduction is the process of converting observations of sun, moon, stars or planets into the ship's position. It requires tables and mathematical formulas or other means of solving the problem.
  • Imaginary sphere on the inside surface of which celestial bodies (sun, moon, stars and planets) appear to be located. The sphere is so large that the position of the observer on the earth can be taken as the center. It is used to locate the position of celestial bodies on the earth's surface using celestial coordinates: declination, right ascension or sidereal hour angle.
  • Mixture of clay, lime, and other materials ground to a powder and heated together so that the mixture combines (sintering).
  • A centerboard is a movable fin or sliding keel made of wood or metal, pivoting in a slot in the bottom of a vessel and contained within a watertight trunk or case. It increases the vessel's area of lateral resistance to the water. It is used mostly in small sailing boats and yachts. A centerboard schooner refers to this device used on a sailing vessel with two or more masts with fore-and-aft sails.
  • Constant motion on board ship made rigging and sails wear out as they rubbed or chafed against each other. Various devices (gear) such as mats, battens, strips of leather, canvas, baggy-wrinkles (woven bunches of old rope ends), worming, parceling, and service of all kinds were used in the rigging to prevent wear and tear on the lines.
  • Samuel de Champlain
    1567-1635. Between 1603 and 1635, Champlain made 12 voyages to what was to become Canada, establishing it as a French colony, founding Quebec, and exploring up the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes. In Maine history, he is chiefly known for his 1604-1607 voyage, during which he wintered at St. Croix and made the first accurate maps of the New England coast.
  • Ship's chandlery
    A business selling specialized supplies, such as for ships.
  • A nautical map giving navigation information, including: water depth; shoals, rocks, and other dangers; and aids to navigation such as lighthouses, buoys, and beacons. Charts use special symbols and abbreviations to convey information for mariners.
  • During the period of the China Trade, when Mainers were sailing to ports in China, the Qing (or Ch'ing) Dynasty (1644-1911) was in power. The Qing Dynasty was established by the Manchus in northeastern China, and expanded to surrounding territories of Inner Asia, establishing the Empire of the Great Qing. The Manchus were a semi-nomadic people who conquered the Ming capital of Beijing (Peking) in 1644 and remained there until the Qing Dynasty was overthrown by revolution in 1911 and the last Emperor abdicated in 1912.

    Qing leaders were responsible for restrictive policies on books, political writing, and assembly of scholars; they also initiated the "eight-part essay" format for imperial civil service examinations.

    Manchu males wore their hair braided into a pigtail known as a queue. During the Qing Dynasty the Manchus forced the Han population to follow this custom. Any male seen without a pigtail outdoors was beheaded.

    China called itself the "Celestial Kingdom," and had been a flourishing civilization for thousands of years before westerners arrived. The Emperor of China was referred to as the "Son of Heaven, Lord of Ten Thousand Years," and lived in a special area of Peking known as the Forbidden City. The Emperor's Ministers supervised the Mandarins, who in turn supervised districts within the country. Mandarins were ranked into nine levels, reflected in their clothing. Chinese society was filled with custom and ritual; for example, the few people who were allowed to meet with the Emperor had to first kowtow to him. The kowtow ritual involved the visitor lying prone on the floor and banging his head. This practice was understandably a source of tension between the Chinese and European or American merchants. The Chinese revered their elders, both living and dead. In order to insure the proper respect for oneself in old age, large families with many children were considered a blessing.

    The Chinese society was agricultural, organized around growing rice and cultivating tea. There was a wide gap between the standard of living for the wealthy landowners and that of the peasant farmers. Only male children were formally educated. Education consisted of intense study of the Chinese classical writings; calligraphy, poetry, and philosophy were stressed. The highest achievement for a man was to be known as a scholar; merchants and soldiers were held in low esteem. Boys had to take part in a series of written examinations, first on a local level, and then, if these were successfully passed, in the capital city of Peking. There the young man was enclosed in a small cubicle for two days to write the essays for his final exam. These examinations were open to all classes of young men, and it would bring the entire family great honor if the boy passed his exams, which would lead to a position in the civil service.

    Girls were not educated. Marriages were arranged at an early age, and couples often did not meet until their wedding day, when the bride was carried in a covered chair to the home of her husband's family, where she would spend the remainder of her life, rarely venturing outside its walls. The practice of binding the feet of female children was widely practiced in China and, although it originally was a custom of upper class families, by the 17th and 18th centuries, peasant girls began to emulate the practice. By the 19th century it was extremely widespread.

    The Chinese traveled around their country by rickshaw, being pushed in a wheelbarrow, or carried in a covered chair. Foreigners, however, were forbidden to use these methods of transportation.

    By the beginning of the 20th century, the uneven distribution of wealth, undue foreign influence, and the absence of a strong Emperor led to the end of the Qing dynasty and the Chinese Empire.