American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

THE LOG OF THE SKIPPER’S WIFE (1979). James W. Balano (1912-1982) edited the seagoing diary of his mother, Dorothea (“Dora”) Moulton Balano (1882-1951), the wife of a Maine cargo schooner captain. The resulting “log” covers the days when Dora accompanied her husband in the coasting trade in 1910-1913, including one trip to Brazil.

Dora is presented as an engaging and frank woman who introduces us to life in the aft cabin of a cargo schooner as we rarely see it. Liberated and college-educated, Dora is both curious and critical in examining her relationship with her husband, Captain Fred, his business associates, his crew, and her life as wife of the captain. She describes the dowdiness of his hometown on the coast of Maine in contrast to the cultured life that she longs for. She reveals her desire to get pregnant as well as her husband’s sexual appetites and escapades. At the end of the diary, unbeknownst to her husband, Dora is scheming with the vessel’s owners to send Captain Fred (and thus her) on a cargo run to France. [See also JOURNALS AND LOGBOOKS; WOMEN AT SEA]

James F. Millinger