Eating According to Rank, cont.

Forecastle: Foremast Hands Last
In many cases food for the foremast hands was by current standards, almost inedible. There was often little, if any, etiquette amongst this group. At the appointed meal time hour, the cook would dump the salt meat into a wooden tub, the potatoes or vegetables, if any, into another. He then poured the tea or coffee into a large bucket to be taken forward by one or several of the foremast hands. Depending upon the weather, it was either left on deck or taken into the forecastle to be eaten there, where the only seats were the men's sea chests. These men usually drank their coffee and tea without sweetener.

"First come, first served" was the general rule, meaning a mad scramble and a lot of elbowing and jostling for position. Occasionally, one member of the foremast crew was picked to divide the meal into equal portions called a "whack." Each crew member would eat from his tin plate with his sheath-knife, fork and spoon, and drank from his own tin quart cup. After the meal, the tin utensils returned to the netting above his bunk where it's been said they were cleaned by the cockroaches before the next meal.

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image of dinner

New Bedford Whaling Museum