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Patagonia Bookshelf

Extracts from the Logs of the Thames
A Long Island Whaling Ship in Patagonian Waters, 1828—1832

[NOTE: Light editing has been applied for improved comprehension.
Abbreviation "bbls" stands for "barrels" .]


Sketch of sperm whale from Nathan H Cook's journal

Ship Thames from Sagharbor towards False Bank

Thursday July 23d, 1829

At 3 PM weighed Anchor from Gardiners Bay with a light breese from Westward | At 7 P.M. Montock bore NW dist. 8 Miles | Ship John & Edward in company bound out | Middle part foggy & a fresh breese from SSW. took in Fore & Mison top Gallant sails | Latter part fresh winds. set top Gallant sails again clear weather | Thus we leave our dear native shore with heavy hearts for a long & tedious voyage but it will soon weare away & we if our lives is spared will again be among those we love most dearly | O Dear how bad I feel | So ends the first day out | Latt Obsd. 39"50 N

Friday 14th Aug [in margin: drawing of sperm whale tail fluke]

Commences north, fine pleasant weather but Calm | Employed turning[?] in the fore rigging & ratling[?] down the same | saw nothing | The Capt Empld. Coppering the taffrail &c | Through the Night Calm | At 6 in the Morning saw a Sperm Whale & call all hands & Lower all 3 Boats struck him [...] he sounded & the line parted & away he we[nt ...] Heights Lines is Cursed not a little. | Came [...] board. hoisted up & got dinner | so ends | [...] 3.46 | No Obs | [illegible]

Thursday 20th Aug [in margin: drawings of harpoons and whales]

Commences with fresh gales & pleast. weather. Wind from the N.E. steering S.S.W. | Middle & Latter part the same | at 1.P.M. saw a School of sperm Whales, Lowered struck & soon killed one of them but could get no more. took him along side & let him lay over night | so ends | set the watch 2&2 | Latt Obsd. 17"55 N | Long 25"17 West

Thursday 29th Aug [error: should be 27th]

Commences with beautifull pleasant weather | 3 sails in sight | Employed setting up head stays &c | Ground the Whale Spades | Through the night cloudy weather | Latter part pleasant | showers of rain but not squally | So ends this day | No Obsd. | 35 Days out

Sunday 30th Aug. [in margin: 38 Days out]

Commences with fresh winds from S.W. | heading S.E. & SE by S | saw two sails | Employed grinding chaft &c | Unbent & sent down the Main topsail & bent a new one & mended the old one | Middle part pleasant & strong winds crack on the ship | hard to gain to windward | Latter part rather inclines to be squally | carry all sail on the wind | This day again reminds me more forcibly of home & why; because we have nothing to do on this day except work the ship, extraordinary cases excepted. It is 6 weeks since we left home but it appears as nothing & so will 10 or 12 Months when we look back upon it, if we should live so long. Nothing would give me more satisfaction than to now be among my dear relatives & friends yet I know I cannot under 10 or 11 months if life is spared & then I fear I shall not be able to stay long with them, however I must bear my lot with patience knowing that many one placed in a worse situation in life than myself | God has seen fit to place me here in this situation & why should I murmer at his wise doings; I may not see many happy days | at least I will [...] I shall & then if [...] not be unhappy [...] | Latt Obsd. 6"48 N | Long [...]

Thursday 10th Sept [in margin: Bungs]

Commences with rugged weather | steer S.W. by . under single reefed Top-sails & Main top gallant sail, the water flying merrily through the night squally | Latter part rather squally steer S.W. under reefd. Topsails. | Employed, making Bungs | Latt Obsd. 13"34 South | Long 27"34 West | 49 Days out

Friday 11 Sept

Begins with squally weather but the wind more moderate | let reefs out of fore & Main top sails, employed making Bungs | middle part more pleasant | Latter part showers of rain, the wind hauled more aft | set fore topmast studing sail & squared the yards | steer S.W. | Employed fitting a new boat. making Boat sails, drawing & knotting yarns & making spunyarn & other jobs to tedious to mention | so ends | Latt Obsd. 16"08 South | Long Acct 29"40 W | 50 Days Out

Ship Thames at False Bank

Tuesday 22 Sept

Commences with fresh gales from N.W. & Cloudy weather | Took up the Main yard Slings & sent up the Cutting pennant | drawed some yarns &c | Water green & looks like a storm | Through the night stormy & blows a gale | Latter part the wind increases to a gale | Double reefed the topsails. at 8.P.M. hove the Ship too in Latt 35"42 South, being on the false Bank. We are now stationary for 6 months I expect | so ends | Latt Obsd. 35"32 S | Long Acct 42"15 W | 61 Days Out

Wednesday 23 Sept [in margin: Dog Dead]

A Gale of Wind from S by W | Lay too under Close reefed Main top sail & Fore Sail | Employed picking oakum, fitting fin[?] Strap Dressing from poles & Cleaning Craft &c. This Day I killed my Dog & threw the poor little fellow over board | he had been sick for a week & better but he is now out of trouble | I think I had much rather be at home setting by My fathers fire side than tossing about here | 62 Days Out | Latt Obsd 36"48 S | Long [...] 41 [...]

Friday Oct 30th [in margin: Sunk a Whale]

Almost calm. Called all hands at daylight, and commenced cutting our Whale | finished about 10 A.M. Made sail & stood to the Southward, saw plenty of whales & chased them untill sunset & finally struck 1 & killed him with the Harpoon | he died under water & took a whole line. I believe it was the Old Fellow him self, for he was covered with Barnacles & long grass or hair | the worst looking fish I ever saw | came on board & took in sail. Through the night pleasant | employed Boiling | Latt Obsd. 39"12 S | Long Acct 44"58 W

Saturday 31st Oct

Fine weather employed boiling our bluber & chasing wild whales | saw two Ships At 4.P.M. | spoke the Ship Columbia of Sag-harbor, Capt R F Hand with 1 Whale | Capt Hand came on board & brought our letters | took in sail at sun set | Boiling fast | Latt Obsd. 39"14 S | Long 44"50 W | 99 Days Out

Tuesday 1st December [in margin: Wrote home]

Begins with pleasant weather | made all sail at daylight | Cleaned a head of bone &c | Latter part spoke the Ship Stanton of Fairhaven from around Cape horn bound home with 2400 bbls Sperm Oil | Wrote home by her | Capt Cooper went on board but it came up squally & he soon came home & took in sail for the night | so ends | Latt Obsd. [blank] | Long [blank] | 128 Days out

Wednesday 2nd Decr

All day a gale of wind from N.W. | Water green | saw nothing | Lay too under Close reefed Main topsail & reefed foresail | Latt Obsd 41"17S | [blank] Long | 129 Days out

1 year ago today was a sorry day to me | May God preserve us all from the like accidents this year & forever [On 2 Dec 1828 the writer was injured in an accident with a whale; his companion's leg had to be amputated.]

Friday Dec 25 [Christmas]

Begins with fresh winds from Westly. & steer by the Wind to Southward & Westward | Scrubed off the decks in the morning & washed the Waist boat | Latter part employed about ships duty | Split the Main top gallant Sail sent it down & mended it | which ends the day | A dull way of keeping Christmas I think. 1 year ago today we stowed down our 23d. Whale we have now only 13 | quite a contrast I think | however I hope we shall get a little more yet | At sunset took in Sail | so ends | Latt Obsd. [blank] | Long [blank] | 128 Days out

Wednesday 30th Dec [in margin: Killed & Salted 2 Whales]

Moderate weather this morning | saw the Marcus get a Whale | At 9.A.M. lowered & struck two & soon turned them up | took them along side at 11.A.M. cut them in | blowing fresh when we finished | did not set the try works to going | so ends | Latt Obsd. [blank] | Long [blank] | 14 Whales | 163 Days out

Thursday 31 Dec

Fresh gales from the Westward & squally | Latter part, set the try works to going | Saw nothing | Killed a pig for New Years | so ends | Latt Obsd. 39"10 South | Long 46"40 Acct | 164 Days out

Friday Janr 1st [A New year]

Begins with fine weather & almost Calm | Employed boiling & finished towards night | took in sail at sunset | our Whale made us 80 bbls a piece | This day has been as hot as June or July at home, here it is midsummer | While our friends at home are blowing their fingers & occasionally have a Sleigh ride, we are here in fine weather & all the sleighing we get is when we are fast to a Whale which seldom happens | Latt Obsd 37"55 S | Long Obsd 46"25 W | 165 Days out

Sunday Janr, 31st

Empld boiling &c, finished at 3 P.M. | Made sail after Dinner | Weather fine but no fish in sight & I do not expect to see another one on this bank | took in sail | so ends | Latt Obsd. 41"27 S | Long Obsd. 48"36W | 195 Days out

Monday February 1st [in margin: 1830, Bound to Main Bank]

Commences with fine weather | made all sail | Stowed 60 bbls oil between decks | Latter part foggy | cleaned our bone, killed a Hog &c. &c. | Saw nothing but Porpoises & we caught one of them | so ends | Carry sail all night for the Main Bank | Latt Obs 42"03 S. | Long Obd - 49"24 W | 196 Days out

Ship Thames at Main Bank

Monday 22d Febr. 1830

Fresh winds from S.E. | Made sail under Double reefed topsails in company with American. | At 9. A.M. spoke the ship John Adams Capt. Clark of Nantucket with only two Whales. Took in sail at sunset heading in shore. So ends another long day. | Latt Obsd. 49"32 S | 85 fathoms water | 217 Days out

Tuesday 23d Feb

Fresh wind from the Eastward, made sail under single reefed topsails & steered to Northward | Saw 4 ships. | At 1. P.M. spoke the Thorn, Harris of Sagharbor with 1300 bbls in company with the Basque ship Favourite of Fairhaven 400 bbls. the Thorns boat board a French sloop of war from Brest bound to Valparaiso. Gammed all the afternoon & took in sail at sunset in company with the Thorn & Favourite | Latt Obsd. 50"03 | The farthest south that ever I was before. | Sounded and found 84 fathoms water | 218 Days out

Wednesday 24th Feb

Commences with fine pleasant weather | went on board the Thorn but the wind blew up fresh and we was obliged to come home. | Latter part Double reefed the topsails. towards night the wind died away and at [...] sight. hove to at 6 [...]

Friday March 5th [in margin: Saved a Whale]

pleasant weather Made all sail. Columbia & M. Packet in sight | At 7. A.M. saw whales. lowered but could not get hold. | At 9, lowered again + struck 1, killed her & took her along side & cut her in. I think she will make us 20 bbls of oil. The smallest whale I ever saw | Chased again in the afternoon but they are as wild as the devil. !Dear me! I am almost tired to death so will write no more | Latt Obsd. 48"57S | Long Ad.[?] 60"31W | 228 Days out

Thursday April 1st [in margin: Left for Home]

Fresh winds from the South | made sail and steer off N.E. | spoke the Ship Eagle, Hawes[?], N. Bedford 1900 bbls, Comodore Rodgers, Grinnell, 1000 bbls and Mary Ann of Fairhaven 600 bbls. Heard from the Henry of Sagharbor with 1900 bbls 10 days ago, probably now gone off | We are now I think bound off as we have been employed all day, all hands bending new sails and other jobs preparatory to leaving this country or more properly this Bank | carry sail tonight for Home | Latt Obsd. 43"21S S | 70 fathoms Water | Long Obd. 60.00 West | 255 Days out

Ship Thames from Brazill towards Sagharbor

Saturday April 3

Commences with moderate breeses | unbent the fore topsail and bent a new one | Middle and latter part fresh winds from the Northward. Employed cleaning the Cabouse and other little jobs | so ends | Latt Obsd. 41"18 South | 257 Days out and 2 from the Bank

Sunday 18th April

Commences with pleasant weather. Boarded the British Ship Larch of Jersey from Buenos Ayres bound to Jersey (England) cargo Hides. got a few potatoes & fouls from him. At 2 P.M. tacked to Earthward | Middle and latter part light winds and squalls of rain from Westward. Saw a sail | so ends

Course Dist D Latt Dep Latt by D.R. Latt by Obs. D Long Long ... 272 Days out
... 53 27 45 24.21 No obs 49 49.45 17 off the Bank

Saturday 29th May

Pleasant weather & light winds from SE. got up the Chain Cables & bent them, expect to make the Land in about 12 hours if this breese stands | Latter part light Showers of rain | Sounded & found 28 fathoms Water, grey and White sand | At 4 A.M. saw the Land of Southampton, Wind S.E. & a fine breese | At 10 passed Montock point | At 12 noon abreast of Gardiners point | At 2. P.M. Came too at Cellar Neck | At 8 left the Ship for the shore where we soon arrived | So ends this voyage | 29 May 1830