The Arctic Whaleman; or, Winter in the Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Whaleman; or, Winter in the Arctic Ocean

Author:
Lewis Holmes
Author:
Lewis Holmes
Format:
epub
language:
English

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Author: Holmes, Lewis
Arctic regions
Shipwrecks
Whaling
Citizen (Ship : 1851-1852)
The Arctic Whaleman; or, Winter in the Arctic Ocean
For devices that can display an external book cover, Transcriber added the book’s title, author’s name, and publication year to the original cover that is shown below; those modifications are in the Public Domain.

A Whale biting a Boat in two.

THE
ARCTIC
WHALEMAN;

OR,
WINTER IN THE ARCTIC OCEAN:
BEING
A NARRATIVE OF THE
WRECK OF THE WHALE SHIP CITIZEN,
OF NEW BEDFORD, IN THE ARCTIC OCEAN, LAT. 68° 10′ N.,
LON. 180° W., SEPT. 25, 1852, COMMANDED BY THOMAS HOWES
NORTON, OF EDGARTOWN, AND THE SUBSEQUENT
SUFFERINGS OF HER OFFICERS AND CREW
DURING NINE MONTHS AMONG
THE NATIVES.
TOGETHER WITH
A BRIEF HISTORY OF WHALING.
BY
REV. LEWIS HOLMES.
BOSTON:
WENTWORTH & COMPANY,
86 Washington Street.
1857.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by
Wentworth & Company,
In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
STEREOTYPED AT THE
BOSTON STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY.


TO
WHALEMEN,
IN WHOSE EMPLOYMENT, DARING ADVENTURES,
AND MANY DEPRIVATIONS,
THE AUTHOR FEELS A DEEP INTEREST,
This Volume

IS MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED.


PREFACE.

Of all classes of fishermen, the whaleman takes the precedence. This front position will be readily conceded to him, whether we consider the stupendous object of his pursuit, or the vast extent of waters over which he roams to secure his prey, or the dangers and perils peculiar to his avocation, or the immense pecuniary outlay with which the enterprise is carried on.
Some of the reasons which induced the author to present to the public this narrative containing an account of the wreck of the whale ship Citizen, and the subsequent exposure and sufferings of her officers and crew in the Arctic Ocean, are the following:—
1. The instance has never been recorded in the history of marine disaster, in which a ship’s company, consisting of thirty-three persons, lived so many months among the natives in so high a latitude. 2. Being cast helpless and almost destitute upon such a desolate coast, they had to depend principally upon the kindness and generosity of the natives for protection, food, and clothing. 3. Considering the unfavorable and forbidding circumstances of their condition, in living as the natives lived, and their travels in the depths of winter from one settlement to another in order to avoid starvation, it is remarkable that so many of them, with so little sickness, should be rescued the following year.
A plain statement of these facts the author felt was due to his fellow-townsmen, and would probably be of some considerable interest to all classes of readers, and therefore meriting a permanent record with the varied experience of whalemen.
The limited time the author spent with Captain Norton,A who was then preparing for sea, from whom he received the leading facts in the narrative, after it was concluded to give it to the public, is his only apology for not introducing more extended particulars.
Mr. Abram Osborn, Jr.,B Mr. John P. Fisher,C and Mr. John W. Norton,D now absent at sea, confirmed the report of the captain, besides having contributed important materials to the narrative themselves.
Any information respecting the physical features of the arctic region, and the character of its inhabitants, is not only deeply interesting, but highly useful. The recent explorations of Dr. Kane, in the American Arctic, has largely increased the bounds of knowledge respecting that remarkable portion of the earth’s surface.
Though less attention, perhaps, has been given to the exploration of the Asiatic Arctic, through Behring’s Straits, it is, however, a region which is yearly visited by scores of American whalemen, and who have become quite familiar both with its eastern and western coasts, even to the impassable ice barrier, which forbids all further approaches to the north.
The acquaintance which the officers and crew of the Citizen formed with the natives during the space of nine months in which they lived with them, and thus had so favorable an opportunity to learn their characters and habits, has probably never been surpassed by any other company of men within the present century.
The History of Whaling will give the reader a succinct view of the commencement, progress, and present state of the enterprise. The author would here express his acknowledgments to whalemen who have readily furnished him with many valuable incidents connected with the details of their employment.
L. H.
Edgartown, June, 1857.


ILLUSTRATIONS.

1. A WHALE BITING A BOAT IN TWO, Frontispiece.
2. WALRUS AMONG ICEBERGS, 47
3. WRECK OF THE CITIZEN, 63
4. NATIVE COSTUME, 85
5. HUNTING THE POLAR BEAR, 105
6. POLAR BEARS, 125
7. A SHIP AFTER A GALE, 147
8. WHALES RAISED, 169
9. LOWERING FOR WHALES, 189
10. TWO SHIPS NEAR SHORE, 205
11. PERILOUS SITUATION OF WHALEMEN, 239
12. ENEMIES OF THE WHALE, 257
13. HARPOONING A WHALE, 269
14. CUTTING IN A WHALE, 277
15. BOILING OUT, 289

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.
Ship Citizen sails from New Bedford.—Captain, Officers, and Crew.—Interest centred in a Whale Ship.—Accompanying Ships.—Seasickness and Homesickness.—Arrival at Cape Verd Islands.—An Agreement with Captain Sands, of the Ship Benjamin Tucker.—Whales raised.—Christmas Supper on board of the Citizen.—A Whale Scene.—”An ugly Customer.”—A Whale Incident, copied from the Vineyard Gazette.—Arrival at Hilo.—Sandwich Islands 25
CHAPTER II.
Recruited for the Arctic.—Departure.—Coast of Kamtschatka.—Copper Island.—Going into the Ice with Captain Crosby.—Gale of Wind.—Dangerous Sailing in the Ice.—Captain Thaddeus.—Bay of the Holy Cross.—Plover Bay.—Dead Whale.—St. Lawrence Bay.—Whales working north.—Loose, floating Ice.—Ice covered with Walrus.—Fine Weather.—Striking an Iceberg.—Ship leaking.—Return to St. Lawrence Bay.—Damage repaired.—Arrival in the Arctic 43
CHAPTER III.
Northern Lights.—High Winds.—Spoke with Captain Clough.—Ships seen in the Distance.—Storm increasing.—No Observations.—Blowing heavily.—Scene awfully sublime.—Ship struck by a Sea.—Shoal Water.—Rocks and Breakers.—Ship unmanageable.—Fore and mizzen Topsails carried away.—Ship striking astern, bow, and midships.—Foremast cut away.—Narrow Escape of Captain Norton.—Mizzenmast gone by the Board.—Sad Condition of the Seamen.—Land in Sight—Ship drifting towards the Shore.—Undertow.—The Lantern Keg.—Mainmast cut away, and falling towards the Shore.—Men escaping on the Mast.—Trying Scene.—Captain washed ashore.—Affecting Deaths.—Wreck piled up on Shore.—Fire made.—Men perishing with Cold.—Five missing.—Prospects dark.—Destitution.—Tent erected.—Merciful Circumstances connected with the Wreck 53
CHAPTER IV.
First Night on Shore.—Sleeping in empty Casks.—Parties of Exploration.—Dog Tracks.—Arrangements to leave the Wreck.—Desire to reach East Cape.—Reflections upon our Condition.—The dead Hog roasted.—The “pet Hog.”—Company travel towards the South and East.—Two Natives seen.—Parley.—Directed to the Settlement.—The old Woman and her Ceremony.—The second Settlement.—Head Man cordial.—Men distributed among the Huts.—Not able to reach East Cape.—Company entertained.—Motives for it.—Government should reward the Natives 72
CHAPTER V.
No Prospect of reaching East Cape.—Painful Conviction.—The Province of Christian Faith.—The Wreck visited.—The Natives.—Hope unexpectedly revived.—Ship in Sight.—Comes near.—Signals from the Land.—No Assistance offered.—Sails down the Coast.—Indescribable State of our Minds.—Card in The Polynesian 90
CHAPTER VI.
Our sad and desolate Feelings after the Departure of the Ship.—What we should soon witness of Arctic Winter.—The Wreck visited from Time to Time.—Provisions transported to the Settlement.—The Weather.—Whales near Shore.—Severe Gale of Wind.—Fall of Snow.—Ocean frozen over.—Sudden Introduction of Winter, and its Dreariness.—Not to be described.—The Sun falling, Nights lengthening.—Disappearance of the Sun.—Long Night.—How we passed our Time.—Confined to the Huts.—Singing.—Neither Book nor Chart, nor Writing Materials, except Pieces of Copper.—Hope of Liberation another Year.—Captain Norton’s Method of keeping Time.—The Razor.—Our Clothing.—Provisions getting low.—Natives both eating and stealing ours.—A new Chapter.—Commenced living on Blubber with the Natives.—Native Stock diminishing.—Winters in the Arctic vary.—The native Manner of capturing the Whale.—Preparing their Food.—Native Bread.—Description of their Huts.—Their peculiar Locality.—Their Method of lighting and warming them.—The Filthiness of the Natives. 108
CHAPTER VII.
Health of the Natives.—Their Diseases.—Captain N. prescribes a Remedy.—Their superstitious Notions.—Mr. Osborn prescribes for the Sick.—A fatal Case.—They surround Mr. O. with threatening Gestures.—Native Remedy for Nose Bleeding and Sore Eyes.—Burial Ceremony.—Marriages.—General Appearance of the Natives.—Their Character.—Their Habits of Industry.—Property.—Language.—Icebergs.—Their Formation.—The Distance to which Icebergs float.—Their Magnitude.—Field Ice.—The sudden Disappearance of Ice.—How accounted for.—Icy Vapor.—Poisoning. 127
CHAPTER VIII.
Provisions of the Natives getting low.—New Calamity threatened.—Health and Strength failing.—Necessity of seeking other Quarters.—The only Alternative.—Report of a Wreck.—Parties leave.—Dreadful Traveling and Exposures.—Report by the Natives that our Men were frozen to Death.—An Instance of Treachery.—The Captain and his Party leave.—The Weather.—Traveling.—Thoughts of Home.—Preservation.—One of the Party unable to walk.—Left behind.—Found by the Natives.—The Fate before us.—Division of the Biscuit.—Another fails, sits down, and is frozen to Death.—Reflections.—Captain Norton encourages his only remaining Companion.—Singular Appearance upon the Ice.—Dog Teams.—Part of Mr. Fisher’s Company.—Encouragement to our Minds.—Natives unwilling to help us.—The Danger of Riding.—Last Effort.—The Music of Barking Dogs.—Our Manner of Traveling.—Dreadful Condition of our Feet.—Captain Norton falls exhausted.—Native Kindness. 149
CHAPTER IX.
Mr. Fisher’s Party a short Distance from this Settlement.—Next Day left for another Settlement.—Our Men arriving in small Companies.—Health improving.—Cross the River.—No Signs of Water.—Settlement.—Ham.—The Wreck of a New Bedford Ship.—When lost, and the Circumstances.—Travel to another Settlement.—The head Man a savage Fellow.—Traveling towards East Cape.—Seaboard Route.—Natives kind.—Begging by the Way.—The Whale Boat.—The Broadside of a Ship.—Ship in the Ice.—Drift Stuff.—Sun’s Reflection.—Sore Eyes.—Snow Blindness.—The Blind led with Strings.—Partial Remedy.—East Cape reached.—Cordially received by the Natives. 169
CHAPTER X.
East Cape, a Point of Observation.—The greater Part of our Men gathered here.—The Kanaka.—Weather softening.—Ice still firm.—Arctic Scenes.—Icequakes.—Migratory Fowl.—A Whale discovered.—Gala Time among the Natives.—The Natives thorough Drinkers.—A drunken “Spree.”—Cruise into the Country.—Birds-egging.—Incidents.—Native Manner of killing Fowl.—Amusements of the Natives.—Vegetation.—Face of the Country.—Fish.—Fowl.—The Ochotsk Sea and Country. 179
CHAPTER XI.
The Ocean still frozen over on the 22d of June.—On the 24th the Ice began to break up.—Whales appear.—Walrus follow the Ice.—Daily looking for Ships.—Report of our Wreck five hundred Miles below East Cape.—Method of sending News by the Natives.—Ships notified of our Condition.—How.—The Resolution of Captains Jernegan and Goosman.—Arrival of two Ships off East Cape.—Natives first spy them.—Stir in the Settlement.—Happy Day of Deliverance.—Words feeble to express our Joy.—A fit Occasion for Gratitude and Thanks to God.—Preparations to go on board.—The Welcome of Captain Goosman.—Captain Norton with Captain Jernegan.—Crew collected.—Changed our native for sailor Dress.—Liberality of the Officers and Crews in furnishing Clothes.—A Review of the Past.—The Settlement visited.—Dinner.—Arrival at the Islands.—A Card. 197
CHAPTER XII.
A Whaling Community.—Interest felt for absent Ones.—The first Intelligence from the Whaling Fleet.—California Mail.—Further News from the Islands.—”Missing Ships.”—No Report of the Citizen.—No Letters.—Fears as to her Safety.—When last spoken with.—Either lost or frozen up in the Arctic.—Supposed Fate of Officers and Crew.—Distressing Suspense.—Hoping against Hope.—Prayer answered.—The first Intelligence from the Citizen.—Joy in Families.—Captain Norton’s Arrival at Home, and subsequently the Arrival of his Officers belonging to this Place. 214
CHAPTER XIII.
The Ocean.—The Seaman’s Home.—Confidence of the Mariner in his Ship.—Shipwreck.—Moral and religious Claims of Seamen.—The Spirit of the Age.—Interest in the Mariner’s Meeting.—Seaport Places.—Sudden Intelligence.—Seamen remembered elsewhere.—Ships supplied with Books.—Bible and Tract Societies.—Good Seed sown.—Field for Usefulness.—The American Seaman.—Concert of Prayer.—All interested.—The most important Reform for Seamen. 226
*****
HISTORY AND DETAILS OF WHALING.
CHAPTER I.
Whale Fishery.—Its Origin.—Where first carried on.—By whom.—Whaling in the Northern Ocean by the Dutch and English.—Contentions between them.—The Success of the Dutch.—Its Commencement in New England.—”London Documents.”—The first Whale Scene in Nantucket.—Boat Whaling.—The Number of Whales taken in one Day.—The first Spermaceti Whale.—The Interest it excited.—Its supposed Value.—The first Sperm Whale captured.—New Life to the Business.—Whaling in Massachusetts in 1771–75.—Burke’s Eulogy on New England Whalers.—Sperm Whaling in Great Britain.—Revived in France.—The American and French Revolutions nearly destroyed the Business.—Loss to Nantucket.—Its Commencement in New Bedford.—Tabular View of the Number of Vessels engaged in Whaling, and Places to which they belong. 241
CHAPTER II.
The Whale.—Its Zoölogy.—The largest known Animal.—Sperm Whale.—Right Whale.—Finback.—Bowhead. 250
CHAPTER III.
Whale Blubber.—Enemies of the Whale.—Affection of the Whale for its Young.—Instances. 256
CHAPTER IV.
Whale Grounds.—Whaling Seasons, and where Species of Whales are found.—Sperm Whale Grounds.—Right Whale Grounds.—Humpbacks and Bowheads, where found.—Right Whale not crossing the Equator.—Arctic Passage for Whales.—Maury’s Opinion of the Haunts of the Whale in the Polar Sea.—Confirmed by Dr. Kane.—Vessels fitted for Whaling.—Several Classes.—Time of Sailing.—Arrival at Home.—Length of Voyages.—Seasons and between Seasons. 262
CHAPTER V.
Increased Length of Whaling Voyages.—Capital.—Value of Oils and Bone.—Value of several Classes of Whaling Vessels.—”Lay.”—Boat’s Crew.—Whaleboats.—Approaching a Whale.—Harpooning.—Whale Warp.—Danger when the Line runs out.—Locomotive Power of the Whale.—Lancing.—Flurry.—Cutting in.—Boiling out.—The “Case and Junk.”—The Rapidity with which Oil may be taken. 268
CHAPTER VI.
Outfitting and Infitting.—”Runners.”—Remedy.—Articles of Clothing.—Whaling Business.—Promotion.—Whale Killing.—Dangers.—General Success of the Enterprise. 276
CHAPTER VII.
The Manufacture of Oil. 288

INTRODUCTION.

A father once said to his son, respecting books, “Read first the introduction; if that be good, try a few pages of the volume; if they are excellent, then, but not else, read on.” But I do not wish this criterion to be applied in the present instance. For if the reader find the introduction uninteresting, he will be compensated by a careful perusal of the narrative itself. It may be relied on as stating matters of fact. The information it contains respecting the adventurous and exciting business of the whale fishery is derived from authentic sources. The volume presents matters of deep and general interest to

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