- Historic Sites
The Adventures Of A Haunted Whaling Man
August 1977 | Volume 28, Issue 5
—Stiff breeze & rugged sea—3 sails in sight. At 6 1/4 A.M. raised Sperm whales—lowered about 9 A.M. Waist-boat got fast & was taken to wind ‘rd smoking—by noon quarter boats came aboard—bearing with the ship—all sail set—at 1 p.m. lowered the quarter boats and chased whales to leeward—Waist boat set signals of distress—Ship also—pulled hard to the rescue & found her stove—Larboard boat got fast & settled the business—by 4 P.M. whale alongside—and a big fellow he is too—
Commenced cutting in at daybreak—by noon had all in but the head—2 sails seen—
Spoke the ship “Martha”—no letters for me—and she is but 6 months from home, but soon we hope to see other & later sails.
Chasing whales all day—lowered the boats 4 times—before breakfast—after breakfast—after dinner & supper—no success attended our movements—the weather was too good.
—Gammed with the “H.H. Crapo” chock a block— bound for home shortly. I sent four letters on board—One to … Father.…
—Gammed with the small bark “Acorn” 5 mos from home—No letters, not even for the Captain— What is the Matter?
—Gammed with the United States six months out—as unfortunate as usual—have they forgotten me—I think not.
—I’ve struck my whale—lowered 11 A.M. by 12 o’clock Mr. Barker put me on a noble whale—took him head & head—I got up and gave it to him solid—Whiz—whiz—whiz—it seemed but a moment & all the line was out of one of our tubs—160 fathoms—I hold the turn—he shortly slacks—and again comes up to blow—The Starboard gets fast & within an hour he is fin up—the Waist boat was there with the bomb-lance—but did not have an opportunity to use it.…
—This morning got the case &junk on deck—enormous—talk about your elephants—Mastodons—and Mamoth Monsters of the earth—what are they compared to a Noble Whale—how the land folk would open their eyes to see such a head as this—
I am 21 years old this day—oh! how the time flies—and these moments can never be recalled—I wish I was somewhere near civilization—I’d feel better satisfied—
To remain here 18 mos more seems awful—but I’ve battled it so far—why not finish with Gods help—if father could see me now—.…
For the next eleven months the Clara Bell ranged back and forth across the Indian Ocean hunting whales, sometimes in company with another whaling ship, the Eugenia . There was little time for anything but work—hunting whales during daylight ‘hours and often working through the night to render the blubber into oil The two vessels put into port only when provisions gave out. For Weir, there was scarcely time to record entries in his journal, much less ruminate about his state of mind—or engage in, as he put it, “schrimschawing, or whatever these intolerable whalemen call it.” By December, 1857, the Clara Bell had been at sea for more than two years without Weir having received a letter from any member of his family, and he was resigned now never to hear from home.