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