- Historic Sites
The Adventures Of A Haunted Whaling Man
August 1977 | Volume 28, Issue 5
—… We succeeded in sailing upon a noble fellow … our good boat fairly flew before the wind—When Barker the Mate sang out ‘look out for him Wallace” I was up in a moment,… picked up mi/first, iron and darted with Might and Main right in the center of Leviathans side—the second harpoon was hurried in the hunch of his neck, in an instant he darted about three ship lengths ahead of our boat rolled over on his back, and worked his old jaw like the lever of a steam engine—at the same time lashing the sea with fury. The Starboard, boat now ventured up, and. with some difficulty succeeded in getting an iron in to him. When Mr. Whale politely poked his jaw through the boat—making a hole as big as the head of a barrel—
Never mind says Barker, from our boat, unbend your boats sail &plug it up.
We had to work warily about this customer. After considerable manouvering Mr. Barker darted his lance, and in a moment the whale had our boat in his ponderous jaw and raised high out of water—Crack, crash, crack—we were all tumbled pell-mell into the water—and our boat left a total wreck, bitten to pieces— happily no one was injured. It was now time to look about for the ship—Mr. Perry could give us no help for he was already badly stoven, and could with difficulty keep afloat. There was the Clara Bell a mile off dead to leeward—Beating up, under a stiff topgallant breeze—the men trimmed the sails with a will that day and our noble bark beat up gloriously—soon we saw the Captain lower in the waist boat—but so soon as he came near the whale—who was scribing a circle about us all the time, Mr. Whale put towards him, this was a fix—however Mr. Perry pulled up with his stoven boat—and whilst he attracted the whales notice the captain took us all safely on board and off we started for the ship—leaving Perry alone with the whale; it. took but a few minutes to unlash a spare boat from the hurricane house & launch it—oars, shot pins and a spare lance were put into it, and off we started for the fight. Mr. Barker took Mr. Welsh & his bomb battery up on the Starboard side of the whale while the Captain took Mr. Perry up on his Larboard quarter—Perry darted his lance with good effect and at the same moment Welsh fired a bomb lance into him—which performances made his whaleship furious—the flap of his flukes upon the water sounded like artilery—and his jaw came down like a trip hammer. The second lance Mr. Perry threw brought the blood from his spouthole—Mr. Welsh fired three bomb lances into him—when Mr. Whale knocked off the head of his boat, and tossed our notable man with the bomb-gun into the water. His whaleship expired with the day—and by 6 1/2 P.M. we had him tied by the tail.
At sunrise we commenced cutting in. 10 A.M. body in. 11 3/4—junk safe on deck & now for dinner; with a desert of yarns about Taber Tom as the boys call our whale.
3 p.m. case safe on deck—and a couple of men hurried to their necks in the centre of it, bailing out the spermacetti as though a human life depended upon their exertions—Wouldn’t this be a rich scene for the dear ones at home to see—a couple of men hurried in a whale head—a delightful situation surely—
Started the works between 4 & 5 P.M. trying out the head first—6 P.M. sail in sight chasing whales—too late in the evening for us to lower—though the whales could be seen plainly from deck—Hard at work with the fires all night—This morning the barque “Montgomery”close to chasing whales—8 A.M. her boats fast—we lowered & chased for a couple of hours, without success—All hands on deck from sunrise to sunset. 5 1/2 hours rest out of the 24—pleasant and no mistake—the old skipper takes it comfortably & gets well paid for it—but the officers suffer with the sailors—good.…
… Made all sail this morning, a splendid day—the dawning of the New Year; and here we are hard at work coopering on the decks of Clara. Precious few casks I make this day.… raised sperm whales—and chased with all sail set till near noon when we lowered away the boats—the whales had gone down, and we were pulling industriously towards a spot where we thought they would rise—when to our surprise a pod of them rose directly under our boat—I grasped the harpoon to heave into the side of a noble big fellow—when !heard the mate crying out in a rather loud whisper “Are you mad man, you’ll kill us all,” I looked around & here we were almost resting on the flukes of one and the head of another— the slightest prick to any one of a half dozen of whales about us would certainly have been our ruin. I momentarily expected the boat would have been dashed to atoms—there !stood harpoon in hand, and the crew with oars suspended in the air, like so many statues, did not dare move a muscle, when the whales became aware of some danger… and all sunk like so many tons of lead: We now breathed freely—.…