St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on February 27, 1916 · Page 65
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 65

St. Louis, Missouri
Issue Date:
Sunday, February 27, 1916
Page 65
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Wh en Tankee Whalers Put Out to 5 ea it Hardy, buckskin-tough, were these old New England mariners, heroes of many an epic of battle with storm and wave, with ice and calm, with terrible monsters of the sea Sometimes they drowned, sometimes they froze to death, sometimes they perished in mutiny, sometimes they furnished forth a cannibalistic feast. again the monster turned and in an instant stove th second boat. "The captain's boat was now loaded to the water's edge with 18 men, and as it was useless to attempt to capture the whale under these conditions, the boat was again headed toward the ship, now six or seven miles distant. Hardly had they started when the whale gave chase with open jaws and the men felt their last hour had come; but for some reason the creature veered off, passed the boat within a few feet and disappeared, leaving the boat to reach the Alexander unharmed. "As soon as the men were on board, the boat was sent back to pick up the oars and fittings of the other boats and the whale again appearing, the chase was resumed, but when within 50 rods of the creature, he dived,, and the attempt at capture was abandoned and the boat was pulled slowly towards the approaching ship. "The captain was standing at the vessel's knight- "The men were busily at work, repairing their stove boat, and the mate was in charge of the quarter-deck when a whale beads watching the boat draw near when suddenly the of about 85 feet in length breached from whaIe rose close at hand and before aa order could be the water less than 20 yards shouted dashed into the ship, staving a huge hole two distant. Without an instant's Ieei irom ine Keei ana Just aDai' ine ioremasi. mio hesitation the monster headed the tyrn and started Placing the sea rushed in a tor- for the Essex at full speed and ren and ne men bad barely time to toss a few provi- with a terrific crash struck her sions mto a boat and launch it, ere the ship plunged just forward of the fore chains, beneath the waves. "For a few moments the "Tne predicament of the men, thus suddenly left afloat creature lay as if stunned, and in mid-ocean, was a serious one indeed, for one of the then recovering, started away boats had been badly stove and leaked rapidly and less to leeward As the ship was tnan one day'8 stock of water and food was on band leaking rapidly the pumps were for a11 the men- Undismayed, however, the crews at once started and signals started to Pul across lhe 8ea toward land' but two days were set recalling the absent later- on Au- 22- their troubles came to an end as the boats' to the ship. sniP Na"tucket of Nantucket was sighted. "Suddenly the whale reap- "Strangely enough, the whale which attacked and peared, rested for a few mo- sanl1 the Alexander was afterwards captured by a New ments thrashing the sea with Bedford whaling ship, the Rebecca Simms. Five months his flukes and opening and after tne foundering of the Ann Alexander a whale was EW chapters in the history of American in- closing his gigantic jaws, and then gathering all his killed by the Simms and pieces of ship's timber and dustries contain chronicles of such deeds strength, once more dashed full into the vessel, staving P'anns were noucea emoeaaea in us neau anu an ex- Marshall Jenlcin's experience with a whale. of daring as those performed by the hardy in her heavy planks close to the catheads. amination revealed two of the Alexander's irons in his ( nearly 3000 miles away. uei' lue IuaJ",liy U vt-i-it, mui mn umu nnmm nno "Day after day the men' toiled at the boats; scorched brought into port, though leaking badly, y a tropic sun, parched with thirst, and faint with "0f a11 shipwrecks caused by running onto a whale, nr for thp m-nvtsinns and wtr thev had been able that of the ship Union of Nantucket, Capt. Edward (iard- 1T7 Yankpp. whalpmpn of thp naet f-pntnrv Pnr throe Hnvs thp hoats stood hv thpir shit). TPDair- bOdy. I Now almost extinct as a class, as the re- ing and building up their frail whaleboats, one of which "Still a stranger fate which befell several whalers and JJL suit of modern appliances which make had been stove. At the end of the third day the Essex merchant ships as well, was running onto whales-the whale hunting a prosaic business with the was seen to be going to pieces very rapidly. In the result being the same as ifthey had struck a rock or elements of romance and danr almost pntirpiv ,-p- thrpp tinv boats the men headed for the coast of Peru a reef-and while some were actually sunk in this man- movprf thp npHU thpv tn0A an thp hr,ii,tn0 thpv npriv won milp.s awav ner, the majority of vessels which ran onto whales were encountered yet live in song and story. When the United States was still in its infancy, these by intrenid adventurpra rarripH thp Stura anA Strinpa in hnngpr. for thp nrovlsions and water thev had been able the remotest parts of the seven seas. Perils at which to secure from the ship were scarcely enongh to preserve ,ier- 18 the most noteworthy and interesting, the stoutest-hearted sailor of the old-time merchantman life. "The Union sailed from Nantucket for Brazil on Sept. would quail were a part of their daily routine. They "Five days after deserting the Essex, barren Ducie's 19, 1807, and when 12 days out and while proceeding un- braved the crushing ice and the cold of the Arctic, the Island was reached and the crews landed. Aside from der easy sail at a speed of seven knots she suddenly blazing heat of the tropics, storms and uncharted reefs a few shells and seabirds there was nothing to eat brought up against a whale.' The shock was so great that with only a thought of some day putting back at their upon the place and no water could be obtained, and on those on board thought the vessel had run onto a rock home ports with full cargoes of oil. Sometimes they Dec. 27 they again set forth, after leaving three men until the animal was seen and a hasty examination were victims of cannibals. who refused to go farther, and who preferred to die upon showed that the planking on the starboard bow had Though at all times at the mercy of the elements, this wave-washed islet rather than endure the tortures been smashed in and two timbers had been broken. The these dangers were as nothing when compared with the of hunger and thirst in the open boats. pumps were started biit the water rapidly gained and risks the whaleman took when engaged in a life and "Great as had been their privations before reaching the crew prepared to leave the ship. The men were di- death struggle with one of those monsters of the deep, the island they were as nothing compared to the tor- vided equally in two boats, which headed for the Azores, In a twinkling one of the small boats in which he was ments the men underwent on that long, terrible row of over 600 miles distant. forced to approach closely to his quarry might be 2500 miles to Juan Fernandez. On Jan. 10, 1820, the sec- "By Oct. 2 the men managed to rig up sails, but during smashed into splinters and tossed high in the air by ond mate died, and two days later the boats became the next two days the wind rose to a gale, the extempo- the flirt of a huge tail. The frail craft might also be separated. One by one the members of the crew sue- rized sails were carried away and the two 'boats were crushed in enormous jaws as easily as a person would cumbed to their thirst, hunger and exposure, and as lashed together and allowed to drift. Owing to the break a toothpick in his teeth. they died their companions fell upon their bodies, cut haste in which the men left the ship very few provisions In New Bedford and Nantucket, Mass., the great them to pieces and devoured the raw flesh like famished and an insufficient supply of water had been put in American whaling ports of years gone by, the epic of wolves. the boats, and by Oct. 4 the men were put on rations con- the whaler has been preserved. In the former city a "Two of the boats, those of the captain and the sec- sisting of but three quarts of water and 16 small cakes monument has been erected In his memory and mu-. ond mate, remained together until Jan. 29, by which time for the whole company for each 24 hours. seum8 have been founded to preserve relics and records foi?r men had died, and had been devoured and the sur- "Starvation was staring them in the face, their thirst. of his calling. A few " authors, long ago, were inspired to record his history for the benefit of posterity, but the latest and by far the most complete work ha3 just been written by A. Hyatt Verrill, who has paid a glowing tribute to him in a volume entitled "The Real Story of the Whaler." (D. Appleton & Co.) "Fire, collisions at sea, wrecks on rocks or reef and vessels foundering in storms are the commonest of ocean tragedies in the merchant marine, even though the vessels sail on regular routes and through familiar seas and are hedged about with every care and precaution for their safety," the author says. "But among whalemen such perils were of little moment and were quite lost to sight Without an instant' hesitation the monster headed for the Essex at full speed and u-ith a terrific era Ah struck her just forward of the fore chains. was terrible, and their case seemed hopeless, when on Oct. 9, they sighted the island of Flores and landed safely after being adrift for seven days and eight nights, during which time they had rowed, sailed and drifted for 600 miles. "Sometimes stories of a 'mad whale' were spread among the whalers tales of some monster of exceptional ferocity and courage a whale warrior who destroyed lives and boats and invariably escaped, and when at last some vessel captured such a fighter and identified him by the irons found in his body the report was circulated among all the whalers far ond near. - "Such an incident was reported by the ship Hector of New Bedford. In Oe- amid the greater dangers peculiar to their calling. vivors once more faced death by starvation, wnen tne tooer, i.z, ine noais were lowered ana started alter a " Of all dangers which beset the whalemen perhaps the captain suggested they should draw lots to see who large whale, but before they were within striking dis-lea9t expected was that of a whale ramming the ship would be killed to save the others. tance the creature turned, stove one of the boats and itself, and yet this happened many times and many "But on Feb. 17 the chief mate's boat was sighted by threw its occupants into the sea. The Captain's boat a ship was sent to the bottom by a maddened whale the British brig Indian and the three survivors were hurried to their rescue, but the furious, fighting whale smashing in her planks with the tremendous force of taken aboard. Five days later the ship Dauphin of dashed at it, seized it in his enormous armed jaw and lus massive bulk and enormous strength. Nantucket sighted a weather-beaten, tossing whaleboat, chewed and smashed it to pieces. The mate, struggling "Among the numerous records of such catastrophes is and bearing down upon her found Capt. Pollard and in the water, was then seized by the creature and al-the case of the Nantucket ship Essex, in charge of Capt. Charles Ramsdale still alive, the sole survivors of their though bitten and chewed and badly wounded, he was George Pollard Jr. The Essex is probably the first known boat's crew. finally released alive. instance of a ship sunk by being rammed by a whale, "The third boat was never heard from and the story "Meanwhile the other boats had drawn near and fear-as well as one of the most awful ocean tragedies of of her occupants was never known, but those who were lessly attacked the whale, and despite his ferocity and wLU h we have authentic details. saved ultimately recovered and Capt. Pollard, in later resistance the men succeeded in killing him. When he "On Aug. 12, 1819, the Essex sailed from Nantdcket for years, was employed as a deckhand on Fulton's famous was cut up irons of the ship Barclay were found buried the Pacific grounds, rounded Cape Horn and bore north- steamboat, the Hudson. in him and he was thus identified as being a well-known ward, cruising for sperm whales, until Nov. 29, when "Somewhat similar, but with a far happier ending, fighter which had already destroyed several boats and the call of 'There she blows' rang from the lookout, the was the case of the Ann Alexander of New Bedford, men, among them the first mate of the Barclay, who ship was hove-to, and the boats were lowered. Capt John S. Deblois, which sailed on a whaling cruise had been killed three months previously. "The chief mate's boat was soon fast, but no sooner on Jan. 1, 1858. "The danger of being seized and bitten by a whale was did the whale feel the 'iron (harpoon) than with a "On Aug. 20 the mate's boat was fast to a whale when only one of the many perils of the chase and numerous fctroke of his flukes (taih he stove the boat and the the creature suddenly turned, seized the boat in his jaws instances of men killed and injured in this manner are men were obliged to cut loose. Stripping off their jackets and smashed it to bits. The Captain at once hurried recorded. they stuff ed the garments into the gaping holes in the to the assistance of the struggling men, took them into "The first instance of the sort recorded was in 1766, planking and by means of this makeshift and by con- his boat and headed for the ship. when a sperm whale rammed a boat, threw out the son fctant bailing managed to reach their ship in safety. "Meanwhile the waterboat had been lowered and sent of the captain and catching the unfortunate man. car Meanwhile the captain3 and second mate's boats were to assist the captain with his overcrowded boat, the ried him off in his jaws. fast to a whale and thf chief mate headed the ship crews were divided between the two boats and once "More remarkable was the case of Marshall Jenkins, toward them. ' more the indomitable whalers attacked the whale, but (Conti.iued on Page PAGE TWELVE SUNDAY MAGAZINE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH FEBRUARY 27, 191 6.

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