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New England whalers and sealers at the Malvinas / Falkland Islands (Summer 1834)
Fishery operations, glimpsed through the journal of Rev. Titus Coan

Sunday, February 16th, 1834 through Saturday, February 22nd, 1834

Lord's day Feb. 16th. The wind has been so high during the day, that none of the vessels have attempted to leave the harbour. To see three Schooners anchored side by side among these desolate Islands makes one almost feel that he is in some maritime port. Here I find the American, the Englishman, the Scotchman, the Irishman, the Frenchman, the Dutchman and the African mingling together in these "Isles afar off".

Captain Nash invited the officers and crews of the "Unicorn" and the "Elizabeth Jane" to attend divine service on board the "Antarctic" in the afternoon. At the hour appointed a signal was set and these hardy sons of the Ocean collected together and filled our cabin. Here I was permitted to address an attentive audience from many and remote nations, some of whom I expect to see no more till the day of final retribution. My text was Jeremiah 29:13 "And ye shall seek me and find me whem ye shall search for me with all your heart". I think I felt thankful for an opportunity once more to "preach Christ crucified" to a little assembly of immortal beings, a privilege which I had not been permitted to enjoy for more than three months.

Falkland Sound, Feb. 17th. The "Antarctic" sailed this morning in company with the "Elizabeth Jane" for "Arch Islands", distant 30 miles. After beating against a head wind all day we were unable to reach the place of our destination and came to anchor for the night under lee of the shore.

Port Albemarle, Feb. 18th. Our anchor was weighed at daylight this morning and with a fresh breeze we soon found ourselves in the place to which we were bound. In this harbour we found the Ship "Charles Adams", Captain Staunton, of Stonington, Connecticut. With her tender the brig Uxor: also the Barque "Commodore Barre", Captain Chester, of New York. These vessels are all engaged in the Whaling business, the ships lying in port as receivers, while the tenders cruise about these seas in search of whales. With our own Schooner and the "Elizabeth Jane" there are now five American vessels lying in this bay, giving it the appearance of a naval port.

In consequence of failing to get a supply of provisions at these Islands Captain Nash has decided that he cannot carry us home, and we are to seek a residence on board some vessel until an opportunity presents of leaving these shores. Thus our hopes of soon revisiting our native land are again blasted.

Fish Bay, Feb. 19th. Left Port Albemarle for New Island early this morning. Were becalmed during the forenoon, but in the after part of the day a breeze sprung up and wafted us pleasantly along. We passed many Islands, of various forms and sizes, some of which were literally covered with birds, filling the air with wild and multiform notes. I should judge that 20,000 of birds might often be found on islands not more than two miles in circumference. The history of the "Jonny Rook" [Author's note: Corvus frugilegus. Ed.] - a bird somewhat resembling the crow - is rather amusing. This fowl is an errant thief, and surpasses all the feathered tribe in impudence. It is always watching the sailor when on shore, hovering and screaming just over his head, following him from place to place and when he lays any small article upon the ground slyly stealing it away, often from within two feet of him. It seems to delight in mischief for its own sake, and will break hundreds of eggs which seamen have collected, if left for a few moments on the ground unguarded. It will even dig up articles which are buried in the ground and, if possible, destroy them or convey them away, and hide them. It has been known to take jack knives, powder horns, flasks, caps and other small articles, and sometimes to drop them into the middle of a pond in sight of their owners. These qualities render the Rook an object of resentment among sailors, and the most cruel and shocking tortures are often practiced upon it without any apparent compunction.

Not being able to reach New Island our vessel was brought to anchor in Fish Bay, at 9 o'clock in the evening.

Feb. 20th. The Captain concluding to remain here until he is ready for sea, a boat was sent to New Island - a distance of 7 miles - to see some vessels which are lying there, I took passage in this boat in order to see Captain Pendleton of the Ship "Hamilton", to engage a residence for my companion and myself until an opportunity offers for returning to our native land. The day was very stormy and cold, but we arrived safely at the Ship, where we concluded to spend the night. The Hamilton is a fine Ship of 500 tons, and is employed in the Whale fishery. She remains at anchor in Island Harbour, and is attended by two Schooners viz. the "Macdonough" [McDonough, Ed.] and the "Caroline" which ply about in these seas in search of whales. Captain Pendleton agrees to receive us on board his ship whenever the "Antarctic" goes to sea. In the "Hamilton" found some trunks which we left on board the "Mary Jane" to send back to the U.S. I also found two young sailors who left the Patagonian Indians two days before Brother Arms and myself embarked in the "Antarctic".

Feb. 21st. Received an invitation to return to Fish Bay in the Schooner "Hancock", Captain Davidson. Went on board and in about two hours we were along side of the "Antarctic".

Feb. 22d. All is bustle on board in fitting for sea. Spent most of the day in writing and preparing letters for friends, as the "Antarctic" is to sail in a day or two.