The Adventures Of A Haunted Whaling Man


25th Sunday

… A few Minutes before 8 oclock Thursday morning we discovered a school of cows & calves off our bow—about 3 miles distant—We are then steering North—We immediately bore off and ran almost due E—head on for the square heads—gradually we neared them, and new life seemed to possess us all by this time—The anticipation of capturing some of those mamals and having glorious sport. The boats were quickly in readiness. And no sooner had the captain given the order to “lower away the boats” than all three boats with their respective crews were in the water quicker’n Jarvis—And now our sail is set and as we are to the windward of the whales it is necessary to observe the strictest silence—each one has peaked his oar & grasped the paddle—and we all tug away with a hearty good will—but the whales seem to anticipate danger and have quickened their speed—


After chasing for nearly two hours Mr. Perry’s boat got fast—and a few minutes after Mr. Welsh’s boat was fast securely to a cow—Our boat was a half a mile off at this time but we shortly pulled up—so soon as the other boats got fast we took in our sail—stowed away the paddles and bent to our oars with desperation—soon we were close by the waist boats whale —and now the Mate sung out to Johnson our boatsteerer— “stand up and give it to him” and he did give it to solid—an instant and the water is white with foam, but the whale dont stop to fight—off he darts—dragging our two boats humming through the water—shortly he slackens his speed—

The Mate is now in the bows—lance in hand— “haul line “he shouts—We soon haul close, and the Mate has darted the lance chock to the socket in leviathan’s very vitals—again the water foams—but this time it is red with the blood of the whale— and off he starts, swifter than ever— The line hums around the loggerhead—and the water has to be freely hove upon it—the sparks fly—look out there! Foul line—the tub man cries out—and quicker than thought a whole bunch of line is whisked past every one in the boat—Another bunch flies out this time dislodging several of the crew from their places—The line is now displaced from the chock—and drags across the mates body—soon the whale slackens again and we reset the line—we again haul up and keep close to the whale—the Mate lances him three or four times more—Oh! look out—he is moving his circle—he’ll be fin up shortly—look to your oars, men—keep clear of him while he’s in his flurry—Now the water foams and flies—steam off for your lives—we quickly steam off & look again—the whale is dead—he is fin up— If all Sperm Whales are as easily captured as this, we won’t have much difficulty—it is far different from right whaling for they fight like mad with their enormous flukes—but a square head don’t lift his flukes so threateningly—

When this whale lay alongside before cutting in, I had some leisure to survey him—My first impression was that it was a half-formed work of the creator—but when I thought who made that creature, I could see beauty in every inch of’it —Oh how wonderful and curious are all thy works oh thou Creator. …

On June 6 the Clara Bell dropped anchor off Port Victoria on Mahé Island, one of the Seychelles group of islands northeast of Madagascar. After a stay of eleven days, during which fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat were taken aboard, she departed to renew the search for sperm whales.

[July] 4th Friday

—… This day has been one of a little enjoyment with us— cocoanuts, roast pig—minced pies, soft tack, ginger cake, pepper sauce, Molasses, pepper, rice and pickles, was our bill of fare—quite extensive for sailors—wound up the day by firing salutes with a couple of packs of fire crackers—and a grand consertino given by the Steward and Myself on an old tin pan and a cracked flute—. …

26th Friday