Anders Anderson was born into a prosperous family in the farmlands of southern Sweden in 1864. As the firstborn son he stood to inherit the estates of his parents, but the boy had other dreams and left home at sixteen to become a sailor aboard Swedish ships in the worldwide sailing trade. The teenager sailed to North and South America, North and South Africa, Burma, and India among other places. He crossed the Atlantic at least eleven times. He survived a shipwreck off Spain, and learned of the deaths of his father and grandparents while far away from home.

Turbulent economic times in Sweden in the 1870s and ’80s and the premature death of his father left his family destitute. After five years at sea, he set off for Australia to be a sheep farmer and seek opportunities to help his mother and seven younger siblings back home.

So began the improbable adventure that brought him to America and to a life as a Maine schooner captain. He found love with the shy, kindhearted daughter of a lighthouse keeper and married into one of the pioneering families of Mount Desert Island. They would raise six children together, across all the many departures and homecomings and adventures and dangers that comprised the lives of a sailing captain and his stalwart wife and partner.

Sailing destinations graphic

Capt. Anders Anderson commanded first two- and then three-masted schooners in a career lasting more than 42 years. He sailed out of Stonington, Camden, and Rockland on passages ranging from Nova Scotia in the north to Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and other Caribbean and southern ports. Over this long career he survived the loss of three ships without losing a man. This included one wreck when he and his crew survived nearly three days in an open dory in February cold off the coast of New Jersey. He retired from the sea at the age of 67, back to his home and family in Rockland, where he spent his last years tending to his garden, fruit trees, chickens, and chores in the warm embrace of his family, neighbors, and friends.

Capt. Anderson maintained yearly journals from 1906 to 1940, capturing in these records the ebb and flow of the life of a Maine captain in the last decades of the coastal sailing trade. The journals also illuminate the daily community and family life in the coastal towns of Penobscot Bay in the first four decades of the 20th century. His story and journals provide a glimpse into a special time in Maine and American history, and is representative of the iconic captains whose skill, determination, and courage became synonymous with the self-reliant Yankee spirit of coastal Maine.