The Pedro Varelo

The Pedro Varelo was a former U.S. Revenue Cutter converted to a schooner rigged for whaling. All of her officers and boatsteerers, her cook and four crewmen were Portuguese. The rest of the crew were American greenhands.

In the Spring of 1910,the schooner was headed to the Hatteras Grounds. Maritime Law declared that whaleships reach land at least every six months and the the schooner had been out almost that long. Whales were not being caught and the onboard conditions were poor. Tensions were high between the Americans and most of the Portuguese crew members. Antone Fortes, a native of Sao Nicolau in the Cape Verde Islands was in the third mate’s crew.

Fortes later became a resident of Vineyard Haven on Martha’s Vineyard. Recalling the date July 4, 1910 he said the "final straw" came for the unhappy Americans when the Captain refused to fly their country’s flag. During the starless night that followed, the mutineers quietly threw all the whale processing tools overboard, finally smashing the windlass and the tryworks. Fortes, however, did not join the disgruntled crew members. The mutineers were eventually sentenced to Federal Prison in Atlanta, but were released a few weeks later because they never directly refused orders, attacked officers or planned to take the ship by force.

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Martha's Vineyard Museum J. Ross Browne