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This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
Ship of Captain Robert Cochran on the French Coast
1875-1890, 19th century
18.5 x 23.7 cm
Gift of Marth Nutter Kimball
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum

Keys to History:

The world's oceans challenged all who dared sail on them. Life for the crew aboard a wooden sailing ship was often one of hard, dangerous work. Injuries and deaths, especially from drowning, were common. Sailors sometimes fell from the rigging, or died of disease. The food was usually poor, and living quarters were damp, cramped, cold in winter and suffocating in summer.

The captain was master aboard ship. He had to be able to handle rough characters and keep discipline, make split-second decisions and navigate through poorly charted waters. In addition he was often responsible for the disposal of cargoes, and for arranging new charters.

While the captain might have his family's company on a voyage, sailors did not enjoy that privilege. Despite the hardships, many sailors returned to the sea, for it was the only life they knew.

Source : The Golden Age of Sail [Web tour], by New Brunswick Museum (see Links)


Storms, uncharted reefs and ice were some of the dangers encountered by wooden ships, but one of the greatest threats was simply the rotting of the wooden hull.


Captain Cochran's homeport was St. Martins, New Brunswick.


The ship was wrecked in the late 19th century.


Successful fleet owners, like James and Robert Reed or the Troop family, were not immune to disaster. Both companies lost ships and crew to the sea.

© Musée McCord Museum