Traveling with family

“Letters from the Sea, 1882 – 1901: Joanna and Lincoln Colcord’s Seafaring Childhood”
by Parker Bishop Albee, Jr. Tilbury House Publishers, 2000; 192 pp. $29.

By Sandy Marsters
I also recommend “Letters from Sea,” by Parker Bishop Albee, Jr., and published by Tilbury House and the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine. These are the memories of Joanna and Lincoln Colcord, whose father, Lincoln Alden Colcord, went to sea in the early 1870s.

It wasn’t unusual for a young man from Searsport, Maine, to pursue a life at sea. But it was a little unusual to bring your family with you, as Colcord did when he and his wife, Jane, on their wedding night, put to sea on the bark Charlotte A. Littlefield.

On that voyage, their children, Joanna and Lincoln, were born aboard ship and would continue to voyage with their parents over the years. At times the captain would voyage alone, but always the adventures were captured in wonderful letters as the captain attempted to guide and comfort his children from the far corners of the earth.

Providentially, daughter Joanna became a photographer at a young age and documented the family’s voyages together.

Once my wife and I were in a bookstore in Belfast, Maine, and came across an old post card of a sea captain leaning against the stern rail of his sailing ship, pipe in mouth, taffrail log streaming aft, swells towering over the stern, clearly enjoying himself.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this was Captain Colcord, captured on film by his daughter. When his wife saw the photograph, she was distressed because the captain had taken out his dentures.

I had the postcard blown up and it hangs in my staircase. It is testament to the joy of a man at sea, but not always alone – his family is often there, photographing him, nagging him about his dentures, as they anticipate the next port. That makes this a very special kind of sea story.

Co-founder of Points East, along with Bernie Wideman, Sandy Marsters is also the magazine’s former editor.