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The Cruise of the Cachalot Round the World After Sperm Whales   By: (1857-1915)

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Frank T. Bullen, F.R.G.S.

First Mate


Miss Emily Hensley

In grateful remembrance of thirty years' constant friendship and practical help this work is affectionately dedicated by her humble pupil.


In the following pages an attempt has been made it is believed for the first time to give an account of the cruise of a South Sea whaler from the seaman's standpoint. Two very useful books have been published both of them over half a century ago on the same subject; but, being written by the surgeons of whale ships for scientific purposes, neither of them was interesting to the general reader. ["Narrative of a Whaling Voyage round the Globe," by F Debell Bennett, F.R.C.S. (2 vols). Bentley, London (1840). "The Sperm Whale Fishery," by Thomas Beale, M.R.C.S. London (1835).] They have both been long out of print; but their value to the student of natural history has been, and still is, very great, Dr. Beale's book, in particular, being still the authority on the sperm whale.

This book does not pretend to compete with either of the above valuable works. Its aims is to present to the general reader a simple account of the methods employed, and the dangers met with, in a calling about which the great mass of the public knows absolutely nothing. Pending the advent of some great writer who shall see the wonderful possibilities for literature contained in the world wide wanderings of the South Sea whale fishers, the author has endeavoured to summarize his experiences so that they may be read without weariness, and, it is hoped, with profit.

The manifold shortcomings of the work will not, it is trusted, be laid to the account of the subject, than which none more interesting could well be imagined, but to the limitations of the writer, whose long experience of sea life has done little to foster the literary faculty.

One claim may be made with perfect confidence that if the manner be not all that could be wished, the matter is entirely trustworthy, being compiled from actual observation and experience, and in no case at second hand. An endeavour has also been made to exclude such matter as is easily obtainable elsewhere matters of common knowledge and "padding" of any sort the object not being simply the making of a book, but the record of little known facts.

Great care has been taken to use no names either of ships or persons, which could, by being identified, give annoyance or pain to any one, as in many cases strong language has been necessary for the expression of opinions.

Finally, the author hopes that, although in no sense exclusively a book for boys, the coming generation may find this volume readable and interesting; and with that desire he offers it confidently, though in all humility, to that great impartial jury, the public.

F.T.B. Dulwich, July, 1897.


CHAPTER I OUTWARD BOUND Adrift in New Bedford I get a ship A motley crowd "Built by the mile, and cut off as you want 'em" Mistah Jones Greenies Off to sea.

CHAPTER II PREPARING FOR ACTION Primitive steering gear Strange drill Misery below Short commons Goliath rigs the "crow's nest" Useful information Preparing for war Strange weapons A boat load.

CHAPTER III FISHING BEGINS The cleanliness of a whale ship No skulking Porpoise fishing Cannibals Cooking operations Boat drill A good look out "Black fishing" Roguery in all trades Plenty of fresh beef The nursery of American whalemen.

CHAPTER IV BAD WEATHER Nautical routine The first gale Comfort versus speed A grand sea boat The Sargasso Sea Natural history pursuits Dolphin Unconventional fishing Rumours of a visit to the Cape Verdes Babel below No allowance, but not "full and plenty" Queer washing Method of sharing rations The "slop shop" opened Our prospects.

CHAPTER V ACTUAL WARFARE... Continue reading book >>

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