Anchor Away!

Shining with a fresh coat of paint and supplied for a three to four year adventure, the New England whaleship set off for the open sea. Crowds that had gathered along the waterfront waved to the departing sailors and wished everyone a successful or "short and greasy voyage." Sometimes a pilot boat towed or steered the vessel out of the harbor. Once a safe distance from land, the crew raised the sails on the whaleship. With each swell in the ocean, the ship moved farther away from a familiar landscape.

The captain typically seized the moment to call all hands on deck. He established strict authority and order with a short address. It went something like this: "I'm the boss here. When an order is given, you must obey it immediately. Grumbling, wasting grub, and laziness are not allowed. We've got to work together. If you go looking for trouble, I'll see that you get it. You greenies have a week to learn the ropes. The sooner we fill this ship with whale oil, the sooner we get home. Let's go."

next page >

image of bark_swallow

Martha's Vineyard Museum