Want to be a ship's officer? Reed's new(ish) Guide Book

Monday, January 21, 2013

I have a soft spot for the "Sea Life" as many of you know, and this volume is one of my treasures.

Reed's New Guide Book to the Local Marine Board Examinations

It is a study and examination guide for the examinations that all Masters and Mates of civilian British ships, trading in and out of British waters, were required to pass. This is the twelfth edition of the guide and published in 1891. The book itself is in marvelous condition for being 120 years old, cloth bound in lovely cerulean blue with a gold embossed ship's wheel and title on the cover.

What I find most interesting is the complexity of the contents, the book is filled with typical examination questions and they are tough! Most are related to navigation and mathematics as well as signals, storm tracking and correcting compasses for deviation. Today there are very few High School grads who would be able to work out the questions here. It is important to remember that very few ship's officers of the day had much formal education.

One passage I found fascinating was in the requirements of an officer, in this case the Second Mate:

"A SECOND MATE must be (at least?) seventeen years of age, and must have been four at sea. He must also prove that he has served at least one year in a square rigged sailing vessel in the last five years."

This implies that men younger than 17 had applied before!?! How many parents would today allow a 13 year old to go off and serve as a sailor at sea? shock

At the end of the book are catalogues of Admiralty charts available from Reed's as well as lists of other Maritime Books, Guides and materials that they supplied.

An interesting glimpse into the work of an officer in the British Merchant Service of the 1890's.

Reed's New Guide Book
To the Local Marine Board Examinations
of Masters and Mates
Certificates of Competency
Twelfth Edition

None listed

Thomas Reed and Co.
184 high Street West


Keep your sightglass full and your firebox trimmed.


Carola Dunn says:
at: January 24, 2013 at 5:00 PM said...

Sounds wonderful! I'm just writing about a first mate in 1927,age 32. I wondered if he was too young, but it seems he ought to have been captain by then!!

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