The Adventures Of A Haunted Whaling Man

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22nd Tuesday

… At noon running under double-reefed topsails—Wind increased to a gale—by sunset we were staggering under a foresail & close reef’d Main topsail. The seas were pretty heavy, and continually washed our decks—Everything, fore & aft was well soaked & washed with salt water—several seas pitched over us scarcely sprinkling the decks. The order of the day at such times is turn in wet & turn out smoking—.…

 
 
 
 
 
 

24th Thursday

—…By 7 P.M. we were scudding along with incredible speed, full 14 knots—amidst a sheet of foam and a deluge of rain; It seems madness to rush along so—but there was no alternative. We were now under close reefed Main top sail—and a bellying foresail—What would a landsman think to see us now—the sea running awfully high—

For a moment we would be lifted upon the summit of a great sea, amidst a cloud of spray—anon we were dropped between two mountain heaps—where it was almost a calm—and all our headway apparently gone. Look up—see that towering billow astern—we shall be engulfed—but no—the Mass of water would rush on—our good bark would mount high upon its top—and again give a plunge, and start ahead like a frightened deer—

Occasionally during the night the gale would lull a little and our good barque would then be plunging and rolling at a fearful rate—The seas rushing by tons over our decks—It was worth ones life to let go a hands grasp from the rigging for a moment—Again the gale would come upon us with redoubled fury—Making the sea look like driven snow—and lifting showers of water from the crests of the waves—which fell upon us like heavy rain. One may imagine a sailors life is a cheerless one in such times, and so it is to some—but not so to me—for I love to be on deck and watch the sea & sky and hear the Almighties voice in the storm—it makes us feel that we are actually in the Great Presence of the Omnipotent. It serves to remind all that God is still there and watching over them. The sea is His and He made it. How little we think so—And yet we know that His slightest thought could send us all to destruction—could send the Whole Universe—I should think sailors above all men should be Christians—because they seem to live in the depths of dangers—and God is eternally saving them from destruction—It is trying to be seperated from the rest of the World—a mere speck upon the bosom of the Ocean. Nothing to be seen around but sea & sky—What an atom is a ship at sea compared with the Universe— And yet God is there.…

May 1st Thursday

—This month will be a memorable one at home on account of Emma’s Marriage which was set for this time—And a right gay time they were to have—But here am I—far-far away in the Indian Ocean.…

4th Sunday

Yesterday (3rd) spoke & gammed with the bark Isabella [ of ] N. Bedford. 8 mos from home been in port about 6 weeks ago—in Toula Bay, Madagascar—They sent about 2 dozen terrapins on board of us—and now every turn one takes about the deck he is afoul of them.

This Morning we raised what the whalemen call a stinker—a large dead whale—bore down for it and found it to be a Finback whale—too long dead to be of good—the sharks appeared to hold a meeting of some kind over the carcass—doubtless in regard to its removal. The birds were not more backward in their addresses. Commenced standing boats-crew watches last, night; a sure sign that we are on the whaling ground—For the past 2 days we have been cruising in sight of Mad gs This is that far famed sperm whale ground Fort Dauphin—The weather is boisterous—and the coming 3 months are said to be Typhoon season off here—where we shall go now I cannot say—I would not grumble to go home—.…

18th Sunday

… For the past fortnight we have had very disagreeable weather— and for the past two days we have had a great many heavy rain squalls—accompanied with thunder and lightening—It rained in torrents all this morning watch from 2 till 7 oc’k. My expectations that were once so exalted, are now fast falling below Zero—here have we been 8 months—aye—9 months from home—and have not even seen a sperm whale blow.…