On Saturday, September 30, 2021 at 11am, the Maritime Education for Students of the Sea (MESS) lecture series, sponsored by the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association, invites Sari Mäenpää, Curator of Collections at the Forum Marinum Maritime Centre in Finland, to present about the history of sailors and their pets! This will be the first-ever international MESS lecture for the ongoing library lecture series.

Pets have been aboard sailing ships for centuries. Pets were commonly carried aboard Finnish windjammers by crewmembers. Almost all ocean-going sailing ships had pets. Dogs and cats were especially important to sailors on an emotional level as animals provided a safe channel for sailors to exhibit, as well as receive, affection. The presence of animals was also part of the sailors’ self-image of being close to nature.  

Sailors in these last sailing ships were living the masculine ideal of the deep-sea seafarer in the golden age of sail.  However, sailors were also longing for domesticity and therefore created domestic conditions aboard ship with the help of companion animals. In this talk, you will meet the chimpanzee Amigo, kitten Kirri and perhaps the most famous Finnish dog seafarer Päik, who sailed around Cape Horn eight times! 

Sari Mäenpää holds a doctorate in the maritime labour history from the University of Liverpool. She has written for several publications on, for example, women at sea and the history of catering crew on passenger vessels. Recently she has also published articles on the relationships between sailors and animals. She is currently working on the manuscript for a book on changes in maritime professions, which will be published by Palgrave Macmillan (UK). She is chair of the Finnish Association for Maritime History and long-standing editor of the maritime history journal Nautica Fennica. She works as curator of collections in the Forum Marinum Maritime Centre in Finland.  

MESS are informal lunchtime lectures that showcases maritime knowledge, research and skills. The MESS lectures seek to amplify new voices, honor experience and respect the diversity of maritime culture. The program is a partnership of San Francisco Maritime National Park Association and San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. The ongoing virtual, live lecture series takes place on the last Thursday of every month at 11 a.m. (PDT). The event is free and open to the public. To register for the livestream event, visit:

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