On the Water

Foghorn

This galvanized metal foghorn was a standard piece of equipment on 19th-century fishing dories. It was used to convey the dory’s location during winter snowstorms and heavy fog. In such conditions, a member of the crew aboard the schooner would pump a larger foghorn continuously to make sure the dorymen were aware of the schooner’s location.

Dories were small, open boats equipped with a sail and oars. Stacks of them were carried aboard large fishing schooners. Once a schooner reached the offshore fishing grounds, the dories were set in the water and manned by pairs of crewmen. These fishermen set their trawls—long lines with baited hooks—and then hauled them in, removing the fish into the dory. Once their dory was filled, the fishermen rowed or sailed back to the schooner to offload the catch and rebait the hooks, if needed.

The prospect of getting separated from the schooner in bad weather and thick fog was a constant worry among fishermen on Georges and the Grand Banks. In addition to a dory compass, a water bottle, and hardtack, the foghorn was an essential part of a doryman’s survival kit.

ID Number:
AG*029382
Maker:
Wilcox, Crittenden & Co.
Place Made:
Middletown, Connecticut
Material:
metal, tin
Date:
1880s
Dimensions:
10.8 x 75.8 x 10.4 cm
Source:
Wilcox, Crittenden & Co.

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