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The Adventures Of A Haunted Whaling Man
August 1977 | Volume 28, Issue 5
Sick as ever if not more so—but for all that have to work like a dog.… I must not forget to mention we were all called aft by the Captain before the Pilot left us—at the same time the 1st and 2nd mates picked their watches. Captain Robbing gave us a short harangue of which I noticed these few words—he’d give us plenty to eat and plenty to do—if we acted like men he’d treat us like men—no swearing etc. etc. etc.… I turn in … disgusted and thinking of home.
Day commenced with a very stiff breeze, increased so much that we had to take in most of the sails; rained pretty hard in the evening—and I got wet and tired out tending the rigging and sails. Tumbled into my bunk with exhausted body and blistered hands—Romantic.
The wind still blows pretty hard and the decks are constantly washed by the waves—not quite recovered from sickness yet, but think lam getting better. I am absolutely sick and disgusted with the living and everything.
Commenced the day at the masthead feeling quite well; while looking about for whales or rather nothing (for I did not search the seas much as it was the Sabbath) I had pleasant thoughts of those I left so unkindly and abruptly but I console myself that it will be some relief to dear father, for me to be off his hands. I also amused myself by singing all the psalms and hymns, chants, etc., that dear Emma [his sister] and myself used to sing in our little Church—by that time my patience was pretty well exhausted and seasickness beginning to come on. My relief came very leisurely up the rigging—and now once more I find myself on deck, but am so sick from the rocking of the mast that I cannot read much in my bible as I intended, and can scarcely write.…
Good breeze blowing—another week of toil before one—cheer up—we ‘ll soon get used to hard work and look at it as play; but the feed—awful. The waters have not been quiet enough to allow writing with ease since we started. Often a big lurch of the ship will knock half the ideas out of ones head. I must give up now anyhow—
My lookout at the masthead from 1 o’clock till 2. While there saw a school of cowfish and they appeared somewhat like the bodies of cows tumbling about in the water—saw plenty of flying fish—never imagined there were half so many in the sea—saw some land swallows one or two of which lit in the rigging—they did not remain long—rested an hour or more and then went home—happy creatures. By 4 p.m.. blowing quite a gale, plenty of rain—wind still increasing—both watches were sent aloft to take in sail—it must have been a rich sight to see us all scrambling up the shrouds, the ship was almost on her beam ends by the wind, and the spray dashing nearly to the fore-top.…
For 9 days we have been out of the sight of land—and for the last four days nothing has broken the line of the horizon—haven’t heard the cry “there she blows” yet—but we are not left idle. Every day since we left home the hold has been overhauled or something otherwise done about the ship —… innumerable jobs .…
Yesterday we had a half hours practice with the boats—I heard the call “man the boats"while at the mast head and down I had to scramble to be at my post for the Larboard boats. All four boats were lowered, and after maneuvering about for practice within a mile of the vessel—going through all the motions of harpooning and avoiding the struck whale, we raced to the ship and our boat beat. The crew of each boat amounts to six men—the mate, first, second or third, harpooner or boatsteerer, and 4 men. After the harpooner has fastened to a whale, he changes places with the mate, taking the steering oar while the mate goes in the bows of the boat and uses the lance to kill the leviathan.… So far the crew have deported themselves very peacefully—nearly half of them are Portuguese— don’t like them—though I can make out to live peaceably. Our mate is a villain. lean see it but too plain … —the second mate is a boy—3rd mate a Gee [Portuguese] .…