Changing the Crew

Changing the crew away from homeport was challenging. Once a crewmember left the ship's crew for whatever reason, he had to be replaced. Often the newcomers were easily drawn into the drama of disgruntled co-workers, becoming likely mutineers themselves. The lure of faraway places was the reason some crewmembers signed on for the lengthy voyages. Some dreamed of beautiful native women, luscious fruits and tropical waters surrounding exotic islands. Escape from the fierce New England winters fueled those fantasies, but also lead to mounting disappointment. South Pacific island natives were not always hospitable and trips to the Arctic were met with unpredictable and often bitter conditions.

The Captain

The captain had a profound effect on the social structure of a whaling voyage. He could unite his crew with respect and the common pursuit of catching whales as easily as he could unite them against him by treating them cruelly. All whaling masters managed their ships in very different ways, but almost all of them felt the limitations imposed by ships' owners on the distant American shores. A captain could easily be driven to take advantage of his crew in an effort to satisfy his ship's owners back home.

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