Showing posts with label Classic Sailing Adventures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Classic Sailing Adventures. Show all posts

Destruction of a Ship by a Whale - Part III

This tall sails adventure is CONTINUED FROM PART I and Part II

Next day, at daylight, they returned to the ship, no one daring to venture on board but the captain, their intention being to cut away the masts, and fearful that the moment the masts were cut away that the ship would go down. With a single hatchet, the captain went on board, cut away the mast, when the ship righted. The boats then came up, and the men, by the sole aid of spades, cut away the chain cable from around the foremast, which got the ship nearly on her keel. The men then tied ropes around their bodies, got into the sea and cut a hole through the decks to get out provisions. They could procure nothing but about five gallons of vinegar and twenty pounds of wet bread. The ship threatened to sink, and they deemed it prudent to remain by her no longer, so they set sail in their boats and left her.

On the 22d of August, at about five o'clock P.M., they had the indescribable joy of seeing a ship in the distance. They made signal and were soon answered, and in a short time they were reached by the ship Nantucket, of Nantucket, Mass., Captain Gibbs, who took them all on board, clothed and fed them, and extended to them in every way the greatest possible hospitality.

On the succeeding day Captain Gibbs went to the wreck of the ill-fated Ann Alexander, for the purpose of trying to procure something; but, as the sea was rough, and the attempt considered dangerous, he abandoned the project. The Nantucket then set sail for Paita, where she arrived on the 15th of September, and where she landed Captain Deblois and his men. Captain Deblois was kindly received and hospitably entertained at Paita by Captain Bathurst, an English gentleman residing there, and subsequently took passage on board the schooner Providence, Captain Starbuck, for Panama.

An excerpt from "Thrilling Adventures By Land and Sea"
By James O. Brayman
in the 1800's

If you like whale stories read this movie review for Whale Rider.

Destruction of a Ship by a Whale - Part II

This tall sails adventure is CONTINUED FROM PART I

Captain Deblois, again seeing the perilous condition of his men, at the risk of meeting the same fate, directed his boat to hasten to their rescue, and in a short time succeeded in saving them all from a death little less horrible than that from which they had twice as narrowly escaped. He then ordered the boat to put for the ship as speedily as possible; and no sooner had the order been given, than they discovered the monster of the deep making toward them with his jaws widely extended. Fortunately, the monster came up and passed them at a short distance. The boat then made her way to the ship and they all got on board in safety.

After reaching the ship a boat was dispatched for the oars of the demolished boats, and it was determined to pursue the whale with the ship. As soon as the boat returned with the oars, sail was set, and the ship proceeded after the whale. In a short time she overtook him, and a lance was thrown into his head. The ship passed on by him, and immediately after they discovered that the whale was making for the ship. As he came up near her, they hauled on the wind, and suffered the monster to pass her. After he had fairly passed, they kept off to overtake and attack him again. When the ship had reached within about fifty rods of him, they discovered that the whale had settled down deep below the surface of the water, and, as it was near sundown, they concluded to give up the pursuit.

Captain Deblois was at this time standing in the night-heads on the starboard bow, with lance in hand, ready to strike the monster a deadly blow should he appear, the ship moving about five knots, when working on the side of the ship, he discovered the whale rushing toward her at the rate of fifteen knots! In an instant, the monster struck the ship with tremendous violence, shaking her from stem to stern! She quivered under the violence of the shock, as if she had struck upon a rock! Captain Deblois immediately descended into the forecastle, and there, to his horror, discovered that the monster had struck the ship two feet from the keel, abreast the foremast, knocking a great hole entirely through her bottom. Springing to the deck, he ordered the mate to cut away the anchors and get the cables overboard, to keep the ship from sinking, as she had a large quantity of pig iron on board. In doing this, the mate succeeded in getting only one anchor and one cable clear, the other having been fastened around the foremast. The ship was then sinking rapidly. The captain went to the cabin, where he found three feet of water; he, however, succeeded in procuring a chronometer, sextant, and chart.

Reaching the decks, he ordered the boats to be cleared away, and get water and provisions, as the ship was keeling over. He again descended to the cabin, but the water was rushing in so rapidly that he could procure nothing. He then came upon deck, ordered all hands into the boats, and was the last to leave the ship, which he did by throwing himself into the sea, and swimming to the nearest boat! The ship was on her beam end, top-gallant yards under the water. They then pushed off some distance from the ship, expecting her to sink in a very short time. Upon an examination of the stores they had been able to save, he discovered that they had only twelve quarts of water, and not a mouthful of provisions of any kind! The boats contained eleven men each; were leaky, and night coming on, they were obliged to bail them all night to keep them from sinking!

Continue to Part III

An excerpt from "Thrilling Adventures By Land and Sea"
By James O. Brayman
in the 1800's

Destruction of a Ship by a Whale - Part I

A tall sails adventure awaits you as you read this excerpt from "Thrilling Adventures By Land and Sea"
By James O. Brayman
in the 1800's


The following thrilling account of the destruction of the whale ship Ann Alexander, Captain John S. Deblois, of New Bedford, by a large sperm whale, is from the lips of the captain himself. A similar circumstance has never been known to occur but once in the whole history of whale-fishing, and that was the destruction of the ship Essex, some twenty or twenty-five years ago, and which many of our readers fully remember. We proceed to the narrative as furnished by Captain Deblois, and which is fully authenticated by nine of the crew, in a protest under the seal of the United States Consul, Alexander Ruden, Jr., at Paita.

The ship Ann Alexander, Captain J.S. Deblois, sailed from New Bedford, Mass., June 1st, 1850, for a cruise in the South Pacific for sperm whale. Having taken about five hundred barrels of oil in the Atlantic, the ship proceeded on her voyage to the Pacific. Nothing of unusual interest occurred until when passing Cape Horn, one of the men, named Jackson Walker, of Newport, N.H., was lost overboard in a storm. Reaching the Pacific, she came up the coast and stopped at Valdivia, on the coast of Chili, for fresh provisions, and the 31st of May last, she called at Paita for the purpose of shipping a man. The vessel proceeded on her return voyage to the South Pacific.

On the 20th of August last she reached what is well known to all whalers, as the "Off-shore ground," in latitude five degrees fifty minutes south, longitude one hundred and twenty degrees west. In the morning of that day, at about nine o'clock, whales were discovered in the neighborhood, and about noon, the same day, they succeeded in making fast to one. Two boats had gone after the whales - the larboard and the starboard, the former commanded by the first mate, the latter by Captain Deblois. The whale which they had struck, was harpooned by the larboard boat. After running some time, the whale turned upon the boat, and rushing at it with tremendous violence lifted open its enormous jaws, and taking the boat in, actually crushed it into fragments as small as a common chair! Captain Deblois immediately struck for the scene of the disaster with the larboard boat, and succeeded, against all expectation, in rescuing the whole of the crew of the boat, nine in number!

There were now eighteen men in the starboard boat, consisting of the captain, the first mate, and the crews of both boats. The frightful disaster had been witnessed from the ship, and the waste boat was called into readiness, and sent to their relief. The distance from the ship was about six miles. As soon as the waste boat arrived, the crews were divided, and it was determined to pursue the same whale, and make another attack upon him. Accordingly they separated, and proceeded at some distance from each other, as is usual on such occasions, after the whale. In a short time, they came up to him, and prepared to give him battle. The waste boat, commanded by the first mate, was in advance. As soon as the whale perceived the demonstration being made upon him, he turned his course, suddenly, and making a tremendous dash at this boat, seized it with his wide-spread jaws, and crushed it to atoms, allowing the men barely time to escape his vengeance, by throwing themselves into the ocean.

Continue to read Part II

Jack Mason's Visit to the North Sea

It's always interesting to read a story from an earlier time when there was yet much exploration to do. One such story is below as this sailor recalls an encounter with an iceberg:

If you should go a great way north, you would find it very cold. The further you go north, the colder it is. I went so far that way one time, that I got almost frozen. The ship I sailed in came close to an iceberg once, and we all thought for a while that the ship would strike the iceberg. If it had struck, it would have been broken all in pieces, and we should have been drowned or frozen, every one of us. God was kind and good to us, though. The wind was blowing very hard, and right toward the iceberg. But just as we had got almost up to it, the wind changed, and blew us away from it.

But I forgot that you do not know what an iceberg is. It is a great hill of ice. In the North Sea, these ice-hills are often as high as your church, and sometimes a great deal higher. These hills of ice are floating along the water there, and when it is foggy or dark, the sailors cannot always see them. So sometimes the ship strikes them, and is dashed to pieces. Sometimes it gets between two of these ice-hills, and gets crushed, as if it was a little boat. Then the men in the ship have to get out, and jump upon one of the ice-hills. But they are pretty likely to be frozen to death then.

Jack Mason - The Old Sailor
By Theodore Thinker
1850

How the Whale Got His Throat

We have all heard of an "old wives tale", but perhaps this humorous story is an "old whales tale!"

In the sea, once upon a time, O my best beloved, there was a whale, and he ate fishes. He ate the starfish and the garfish, and the crab and the dab, and the plaice and the dace, and the skate and his mate, and the mackerel and the pickerel, and the really truly twirly-whirly eel. All the fishes he could find in all the sea he ate with his mouth so! Till at last there was only one small fish left in all the sea, and he was a small stute fish, and he swam a little behind the whales right ear, so as to be out of harm's way. Then the whale stood up on his tail and said, 'I'm hungry.' and the small 'stute fish said in a small 'stute voice, 'Noble and generous cetacean, have you ever tasted man?' 'No,' said the whale. 'What is it like?' 'Nice,' said the small 'stute fish. 'Nice but nubbly.' 'Then fetch me some,' said the whale, and he made the sea froth up with his tail.

'One at a time is enough,' said the 'stute fish. 'If you swim to latitude fifty north, longitude forty west (that is magic), you will find, sitting on a raft, in the middle of the sea, with nothing on but a pair of blue canvas breeches, a pair of suspenders (you must not forget the suspenders, best beloved), and a jack-knife, one ship-wrecked mariner, who, it is only fair to tell you, is a man of infinite resource and sagacity.'

So the whale swam and swam to latitude fifty north, longitude forty west, as fast as he could swim, and on a raft, in the middle of the sea, with nothing to wear except a pair of blue canvas breeches, a pair of suspenders (you must particularly remember the suspenders, best beloved), and a jack-knife, he found one single, solitary shipwrecked mariner, trailing his toes in the water. (He had his mummy's leave to paddle, or else he would never have done it, because he was a man of infinite resource and sagacity.)

Then the whale opened his mouth back and back and back till it nearly touched his tail, and he swallowed the shipwrecked mariner, and the raft he was sitting on, and his blue canvas breeches, and the suspenders (which you must not forget), and the jack-knife. He swallowed them all down into his warm, dark,inside cup-boards, and then he smacked his lips so, and turned round three times on his tail.

But as soon as the mariner, who was a man of infinite resource and sagacity, found himself truly inside the whales warm, dark, inside cup-boards, he stumped and he jumped and he thumped and he bumped, and he pranced and he danced, and he banged and he clanged, and he hit and he bit, and he leaped and he creeped, and he prowled and he howled, and he hopped and he dropped, and he cried and he sighed, and he crawled and he bawled, and he stepped and he leaped, and he danced horn pipes where he shouldn't, and the whale felt most unhappy indeed. (Have you forgotten the suspenders?)

So he said to the 'stute fish, 'This man is very nubbly, and besides he is making me hiccough. What shall I do?' 'Tell him to come out,' said the 'stute fish. So the whale called down his own throat to the shipwrecked mariner, 'Come out and behave yourself. I've got the hiccoughs.'

'Nay, nay!' said the mariner. 'Not so, but far otherwise. Take me to my natal shore and the white cliffs of Albion, and I'll think about it.' And he began to dance more than ever.

'You had better take him home,' said the 'stute fish to the whale. 'I ought to have warned you that he is a man of infinite resource and sagacity.'

So the whale swam and swam and swam, with both flippers and his tail, as hard as he could for the hiccoughs; and at last he saw the mariner's natal shore and the white cliffs of Albion, and he rushed half way up the beach, and opened his mouth wide and wide and wide, and said, 'Change here for Winchester, Ashuelot, Nashua, Keene, and stations on the Fitchburg Road;' and just as he said 'Fitch' the mariner walked out of his mouth. But while the whale had been swimming, the mariner, who was indeed a person of infinite resource and sagacity, had taken his jack-knife and cut up the raft into a little square grating all running criss-cross, and he had tied it firm with his suspenders (now, you know why you were not to forget the suspenders!), and he dragged that grating good and tight into the whales throat, and there it stuck! Then he recited the following Sloka, which, as you have not heard it, I will now proceed to relate; 'By means of a grating, I have stopped your ating.'

For the mariner he was also an hibernian. And he stepped out on the shingle, and went home to his mother, who had given him leave to trail his toes in the water; and he married and lived happily ever afterward. So did the whale. But from that day on, the grating in his throat, which he could neither cough up nor swallow down, prevented him eating anything except very, very small fish; and that is the reason why whales nowadays never eat men or boys or little girls.

The small 'stute fish went and hid himself in the mud under the door sills of the Equator. He was afraid that the whale might be angry with him.

The sailor took the jack-knife home. He was wearing the blue canvas breeches when he walked out on the shingle. The suspenders were left behind, you see, to tie the grating with; and that is the end of that tale.

When the cabin port-holes are dark and green,
because of the seas outside;
When the ship goes wop (with a wiggle between),
And the steward falls into the soup-tureen,
And the trunks begin to slide;
When nursey lies on the floor in a heap,
And Mummy tells you to let her sleep,
And you aren't waked or washed or dressed,
Why, then you will know (if you haven't guessed)
You're 'fifty North and forty West!'

By Rudyard Kipling
1865 - 1936

Shark Fighter Hero - Volney Beckner

The white sharks are the dread of sailors in all hot climates, for they constantly attend vessels in expectation of anything which may be thrown overboard. A shark will thus sometimes traverse the ocean in company with a ship for several hundred leagues. Woe to the poor mariner who may chance to fall overboard while this sea-monster is present.

Some species of sharks grow to an enormous size, often weighing from one to four thousand pounds each. The skin of the shark is rough, and is used for polishing wood and ivory; that of one species is manufactured into an article called shagreen: spectacle-cases are made of it. The white shark is the sailors worst enemy: he has five rows of wedge-shaped teeth, which are notched like a saw: when the animal is at rest they are flat in his mouth, but when about to seize his prey they are erected by a set of muscles which join them to the jaw. His mouth is so situated under the head that he is obliged to turn himself on one side before he can grasp any thing with those enormous jaws.

I will now give you an account of the death of a very brave little boy, who was killed by a shark. He was an Irish boy; his name was Volney Beckner, the son of a poor fisherman. His father, having always intended Volney for a seafaring life, took great pains to teach him such things as it is useful for a sailor to know, and tried to make him brave and hardy; he taught him to swim when a mere baby.

Volney was only nine years old when he first went to sea in a merchant ship; the same vessel in which his father sometimes sailed. Here he worked hard and fared hard, but this gave him no uneasiness; his frame was robust, he never took cold, he knew not what fear was.

In the most boisterous weather, when the rain fell in torrents, and the wind howled around the ship, the little Irish boy would fearlessly and cheerfully climb the stays and sail yards, mount the topmast, or perform any other duty required of him. At twelve years old the captain promoted the clever, good tempered, and trustworthy boy; spoke well of him before the whole crew, and doubled his pay.

Volney was very sensible to his praises. His messmates loved him for his generous nature, and because he had often shown himself ready to brave danger in order to assist them; but an occasion soon arrived in which he had an opportunity of performing one of the most truly heroic deeds on record.The vessel in which Volney and his father sailed was bound to Port au Prince, in St. Domingo.

A little girl, the daughter of one of the passengers, having slipped away from her nurse, ran on deck to amuse herself. While gazing on the expanse of water, the heaving of the vessel made her dizzy, and she fell overboard.

Volney's father saw the accident, darted after her, and quickly caught her by the dress; but while with one hand he swam to reach the ship, and with the other held the child, he saw a shark advancing towards them. He called aloud for help; there was no time to lose, yet none dared to afford him any. No one, did I say? Yes, little Volney, prompted by filial love, ventured on a deed which strong men dared not attempt.

Armed with a broad, sharp saber, he threw himself into the sea, then diving like a fish under the shark, he stabbed the weapon into his body up to the hilt. Thus wounded the shark quitted his prey, and turned on the boy, who again and again attacked him with the saber, but the struggle was too unequal; ropes were quickly thrown from the deck to the father and son; each succeeded in grasping one, and loud rose the cry of joy, "They are saved!" Not so! The shark, enraged at seeing that he was about to be altogether disappointed of his prey, made one desperate spring, and tore asunder the body of the noble-hearted little boy, while his father and the fainting child in his arms were saved.

From "Stories of the Ocean"
By Marmaduke Park
1852

I'm sure you would agree that Volney became quite a hero as he struggled to save the life of the little girl yet lost his own to the shark!

The Ocean of Song

In a land beyond sight or conceiving,
In a land where no blight is, no wrong,
No darkness, no graves, and no grieving,
There lies the great ocean of song.
And its waves, oh, its waves beholden
By any save gods, and their kind,
Are not blue, are not green, but are golden,
Like moonlight and sunlight combined.

It was whispered to me that their waters
Were made from the gathered-up tears
That were wept by the sons and the daughters
Of long-vanished eras and spheres.
Like white sands of heaven the spray is
That falls all the happy day long,
And whoever it touches straightway is
Made glad with the spirit of song.

Up, up to the clouds where their hoary
Crowned heads melt away in the skies,
The beautiful mountains of glory
Each side of the song-ocean rise.
Here day is one splendor of sky-light -
Of God's light with beauty replete.
Here night is not night, but is twilight,
Pervading, enfolding, and sweet.

Bright birds from all climes and all regions,
That sing the whole glad summer long,
Are dumb, till they flock here in legions
And lave in the ocean of song.
It is here that the four winds of heaven,
The winds that do sing and rejoice,
It is here they first came and were given
The secret of sound and a voice.

Far down along beautiful beeches,
By night and by glorious day,
The throng of the gifted ones reaches,
Their foreheads made white with the spray,
And a few of the sons and the daughters
Of this kingdom, cloud-hidden from sight,
Go down in the wonderful waters,
And bathe in those billows of light.

And their souls evermore are like fountains,
And liquid and lucent and strong,
High over the tops of the mountains
Gush up the sweet billows of song.
No drought-time of waters can dry them.
Whoever has bathed in that sea,
All dangers, all deaths, they defy them,
And are gladder than gods are, with glee.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
1855-1919

The Sea - The Grandmother's Story

For many the sea is a compelling force and it seems to call some souls to take a tall sailing adventure at high seas. Below is a poetic example of one young man who was drawn to those tall sails.

We sent him to school, we sent him to learn a trade, we sent him far back into the country; but it was of no use, he must go to sea. The Grandmother's Story

A child was ever haunted by a thought of mystery,
Of the dark, shoreless, desolate, heaving and moaning sea,
Which round about the cold, still earth goes drifting to and fro,
As a mother, holding her dead child, swayeth herself with woe.

In all the jar and bustle and hurrying of trade,
Through the hoarse, distracting din by rattling pavements made,
There sounded ever in his ear a low and solemn moan,
And his soul grew sick with listening to that deep undertone.

He wandered from the busy streets, he wandered far away,
To where the dim old forest stands, and in its shadows lay,
And listened to the song it sang; but its murmurs seemed to be
The whispered echo of the sad, sweet warbling of the sea.

His soul grew sick with longing, and shadowy and dim
Seemed all the beauty of the land, and all its joys, to him,
Its mountains vast, its forests old. He only longed to be
Away upon the measureless, unfathomed, restless sea.

Thither he went. The foam-capped waves yet beat upon the strand,
With a low and solemn murmuring that none may understand;
And he lieth drifting to and fro, amid the ocean's roar,
With the drifting tide he loved to hear, but shall hear never more.
And thus we all are haunted, there soundeth in our ear,
A low and restless moaning, that we struggle not to hear.
Yet still it soundeth, the faint cry of the dark deeps of the soul,
Dark, barren, restless, as the sea which doth for ever roll.

Hither and thither, bearing still some half-shaped form of good,
The flickering shadow of the moon upon the "moon-led flood."
And ever, 'mid all the joys and weary cares of life,
Through the dull sleep of sluggishness, and clangor of the strife,
We hear the low, deep murmuring of that Infinity
Which stretcheth round us dim and vast, as wraps the earth the sea.
And in the twilight dimness, in silence and alone,
The soul is almost startled by the power of its solemn tone.

When we view the fairest works of Nature and of Art,
They ever fill with longings, never satisfy, the heart;
But, like the lines of weed and shells that stretch along the beach,
And show how far the flowing tide and the high waters reach,
They seem like barriers to hold back, like weedy lines, to show
How far into this busy world the waves of beauty flow.

Yet when sweet strains of music rise about us, float, and play,
We almost dream these barriers of sense are broken away,
And that the beauty bound before is floating round us, free
As the bright, glancing waters of the ever-playing sea.

And for a little moment, the spirit seems to stand
With naked, wave-washed feet almost upon the strand.
But when she stoops to reach the wave, the waters glide away,
And whisper in an unknown tongue, she hears not what they say.
By John Bartlett, Cambridge 1853