- Historic Sites
The Adventures Of A Haunted Whaling Man
August 1977 | Volume 28, Issue 5
Set taught the Main, Main to gall’t, main topmast & royal stays—steering full & by with a stiff breeze and all sail set—I know what a beautiful sight it is to see a vessel skimming the water with all sail set; often have !watched them (years gone by) from our parlour windows; it was a great pleasure for me then,—and what would I not give to be in sight of those scenes of my childhood.…
Started the sewing society again, stitch, stitch—patch on patch is all the rage—here are half the ships crew below, going it hammer & tongs with their needles—Here is where I am learning famous lessons in economy; with all sorts of trades, coblering, barberizing, washing, tailoring—with probably many others that do not occur to my mind at present—a whaler might well be called—Jack at all trades—for there is a little of every imaginable thing done on board a whale-ship.
It was Friday the 3rd day of August 1855 that I left Cold Spring for the last time. To go to sea was the last thought that entered my head that morning, but how little did I know myself—I think I & Myself shall be better acquainted on my return—should God see fit to allow it.
—…I amused myself while pacing the deck last night in thinking over all my lady friends—I wonder if that one whom I looked upon as my star still shines for me.…
Last Monday … Mr. Barker the Mate struck a large porpoise, from the Martingale guys—which we hauled on deck, stripped [off] his blubber and hung upon the main stay in a short time—Porpoise flesh is considered by some a delicacy—we eat it for a change—it tastes very much like veal, but is not so firm and is of a dark color—the oil tried from the blubber is used in the binnacle lamps, as it gives a remarkably clear light while burning. …
Mr. Barker lowered for [a] Sun-fish—but we lost sight of him shortly after the boat left the ship, I would like very much if we could get one—the oil from the liver is said to be excellent for rheumatism and is used for many medicinal purposes.
Scudding like a sea bird before the wind—with all the square sails set—.
… At our present rate of sailing we ‘ll soon be right off the South point of the Cape—
It is now 4 P.M.. The wind has increased so much that the fore-top-sail was double reefed—and when a huge sea lifts us—our good bark seems fairly to fly—so lightly does she float—anyway if she don’t fly the spray does—.… Clara staggers like a drunken man, you are tossed here, there & everywhere, like a ball in a box; with the pots, pans, spoons, chests &c &c—you cannot resist dancing a jig—on deck it is touch & go—the seas washing over continually keep the decks so slippery that it is dangerous moving about, for they are inclined nearly fourty degrees every few seconds—
Life lines have been rigged aft and the watch on deck is obliged to stop there and keep out of danger—.…
Eight months from home today—. … Just past the extreme point of the Cape—and upon the verge between the Indian & Atlantic Oceans—We are fast moving to the scene of operation; the whaling ground—with wonderful expectations as to filling the ship in one season.
One sail in sight this afternoon, bound for Atlantic shores—Another sail this morning off our weather bow—on the same tack as we.
… Many and many a weary league am I now from those I love—and O what a life for me to lead, among an ungodly set of men—where there is nothing but coarse & immoral language used—It is something I can never get accustomed to—And yet I have to put up with it for at least two years more—
But I am undergoing a rather rigid schooling, which cannot soon be forgotten. I regret being secluded from society, and such refinement as I have formerly been accustomed to—far beyond everything— I must improve my time in every possible way—Mentally, Morally & physically—.…