Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Nantucket sendoff

Today, I got a chance to peruse Philbrick's book and get a feel for it. I liked the layout of the Chapters. For each, there is a nice bit of reference material and comment. The index was quite nice. There were three Gardners mentioned that we'll look at further: Eben, Ferdinand, George Washington. Several other families are included, such as Coffin, Chase, and more. Philbrick, himself, is no doubt a Gardner cousin. The book looks as if it will be a great read. Too, it will be on many reference shelves. Philbrick included photos of artifacts related to Nantucket's whaling experience.

I picked one area to read that covered the preparation and departure of the Essex. Philbrick detailed the cargo. A whaler carried many barrels for oil; too, it had material on board with which to make more barrels as needed.

How many? He mentioned that one whaler (captained by GWG, above) came back with 2,000 plus barrels and may have set a record. Others got a few hundred barrels of oil despite being at sea a couple of years. All in all, Philbrick does a nice job of explaining what was involved with whaling.

It took several days to load the ship using smaller vessels. That is, the ship was provisioned off-shore. That must have been an interesting bit to watch. Then, there was the work of assembling a crew. Of course, Nantucketers were preferred. But, the crew also came from elsewhere.

As an aside, some were African American slaves. Philbrick noted that the Indian population that was suitable to being enslaved had diminished. Now, for all of Nantucket descent, remember that many of the perpetrators this enslavement were of Quaker descent.

Many times, the majority of the crew were "green" hands. And, the ship was not simple to handle with its complicated rigging and such. Of course, getting asea would be way to start to get experience. To do that, one had to get away from shore.

So, to the theme. As the time came for departure, Nantucketers would gather to watch. What other entertainment would there have been? The Captain had to be on deck during this event. Philbrick describes the scene as somewhat chaotic. Granted there were experienced people on board, but the whole crew was involved, hence on-the-job training for the greenies would have been the order of the day. Philbrick writes well of the hot-seat experience for the captain. That humiliation would have continued until the ship was out of sight of those with long glasses.

I don't know if the movie touches upon this subject, but lots of comedy skits might come to mind. In any case, it wasn't long before the Essex ran into a storm and suffered damage. So, that crew got a whole lot of experience in very short order.

Now, Eben Gardner was first mate on the Two Brothers which Pollard took charge of after the Essex. Ferdinand Gardner was involved with handling the affairs of the Globe after it ran aground. The Essex was able to pick up some supplies from him. The Essex had lost whaling boats in the storm mentioned above. George Washington Gardner's success at his whaling venture set the stage for subsequent whaling.

This book, and the event, ought to get a little more attention from us.  

Remarks: Modified: 01/20/2016 

01/20/2016 --

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