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The Adventures Of A Haunted Whaling Man
August 1977 | Volume 28, Issue 5
Our Larboard watch commenced again at 3 o’clock this morning—the sea was in glorious commotion. We would see an enormous wave come rolling toward us—with every prospect of being overwhelmed—but no—God is there— our vessel would glide gently over it—through a brilliant dash of spray and foam. By 9 p.m. the moon broke through the clouds and showed the scene in all its grandeur. Oh—how wonderful art thou. Oh! most merciful Father in all thy works who can appreciate the beauties of Thy land.…
Two short weeks have elapsed since I last got a chance to jot any items—it has been all work & no play—and !have not till now felt able to do anything in the writing line—… A great deal has happened during the first night above mentioned. We have laid off two ports—in the Azores—Flores & Fayal.
At Flores we recruited ship—took on board any quantity of potatoes, pumpkins, onions, fowl, &c. Plenty of grapes—but to obtain them it is necessary to have plenty of money, but with tobacco we made pretty good trades—for apples, peaches, figs, and cheeses—donkey cheese at that—and right good & wholesome they were. I don’t know that I ever enjoyed fruit and cheese so much—it seemed as though we had been deprived of them for years instead of a few weeks, it, was long enough to make me long for something fresh—as I was so totally disgusted with ship/are—lam now getting more used to saltjunk, coffee & tea. I can’t say what the coffee is made of, but it resembles that delicious beverage as much as ink resembles water—… As for the tea—if I only had some of the currant leaves off the bushes in our front yard, I’d feel grateful—hut there is no use crying over spilt milk— get case hardened & go ahead—but I would like some one at home to have a sip of this same tea or coffee.
I am getting quite used to work now—and my hands can testify to that quite plainly—for they are as hard as horn inside—pulling & hauling on hard ropes—and the outside have a most beautiful … brown color—.…
The manner in which the Sabbath is spent on board by nearly all—is truly deplorable, there is very little regard paid for the day—if we are not making & taking in sail all the while—and the weather is pleasant—most of the men will be seen squatting about the fore hatch smoking—dozing or growling—some read or wash—sew &c &c— but no thought is given to the welfare of the soul—And our noble 1st mate sets a most beautiful example by lounging on the quarter deck, the picture of idleness & misery—if he could he would like nothing better than to keep the crew hard at work Sundays as well as week days—
I shall indeed be thankful to get settled somewhere on land, where we can have a chance of improving the mind & choice of good companions. N’il desperandum.
Had a very pleasant day; in the afternoon lowered three boats for black-fish—a species of small whale—average length 20 ft. Our Larboard boat struck one and the waist boat fastened too—but both boat s got loose. It seems quite natural to be rowing about. It is a sport I always liked—though I never rowed in such seas before—for, though it was a calm day—the waves were higher than I ever pulled over before—We chased the fish some four miles from the ship—and when we lost sight of them set sail with a good breeze for the ship—Our boat as usual was first & foremost—and we already pride ourselves on being a pretty smart crew, and a heavy one. I must not forget to mention about our scrubbing decks; every evening between four & five oc’k All hands muster on deck—Make a rush for the deck pot in which are kept the scrubbrooms. [They] weigh about 20 lbs. more or less with a handle between 3 & 4 feet long—. …
For some time past we have been overhauling the ships rigging—as to whales—not more than a dozen have been seen from the mastheads and none of the right sort.… From what Mr. Barker the Mate says—I think it must be the intention of the Captain to go after right whales—and leave Sperm whaling till the season is better. Wherever the Skipper chooses to go, all must follow.…