Friday, January 8, 2010

Bowditch Redux

Owen Chase, first mate of the whaling ship Essex, which in 1820 sank after being rammed by an enraged sperm whale, wrote an account of shipwreck, murder by lot and cannibalism of the victim which probably inspired Melville's Moby Dick. The Essex sank in minutes, and:

"My companions had not saved a single article but what they had on their backs but to me it was a source of infinite satisfaction, if any could be gathered from the horrors of our gloomy situation, that we had been fortunate enough to have preserved our compasses, Navigators and quadrant. After the first shock of my feelings was over, I enthusiastically contemplated them as the probable instruments of our salvation; without them all would have been dark and hopeless." items to have in your whaleboat, especially since the Bowditch of that era included a table listing hundreds of remote oceanic islands by latitude and longitude.

Captain Chase. He was twenty-two when the Essex went down.

1 comment:

  1. This gripping tale is also told in the book by Nathaniel Philbrick "In the Heart of the Sea". The fist few pages will drag one in and not let go.
    I'm enjoying what you're doing here, Thanks.


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