In early March, the Roman touched land at Magdalena Island (Fatuhiva), one of the Marquesas, where Captain Jernegan went on board the bark Arctic. Captain Tripp reported having seen sperm whales, but hadn't taken any since leaving Honolulu. He also advised Jernegan not to anchor there as there was a lot of liquor available. Once on land, Captain Jernegan would not have control of the distribution of the alcohol to the sailors and that could invite trouble.
The next day the Roman anchored in Resolution Bay at Ohitahoo (Vaitahu) on Christiana (Tahuata), the smallest of the Marquesas Islands. Here Captain Jernegan planned to fix his ship's topmast because parts of it were rotten, as well as pick up firewood and a supply of fresh water. Little did he and his family know that the Roman would soon encounter a frightening event in such a beautiful and serene place that had all outward appearance of paradise.
Martha's Vineyard Museum