Scrimshaw is the hobby for which whalemen are best remembered. Everyone on some ships, from the cabin-boy to the captain, etched intricate scenes into whale's teeth. They also fashioned utensils, pie crimps, walking canes, hair combs, and corset busks out of whale bone, baleen, and other materials that were readily available. These utilitarian objects were also highly decorative and designed to be gifts to friends and loved ones.
We know how some of the crew spent their hours from detailed diary or journal accounts kept by some crew members. At least some men sang popular songs and ballads that described skippers and mates in pursuit of blubber. These songs were different from the sea shanties that men sung while working on deck. Storytelling also passed the time in the fo'c'sle and led lively conversation. Crew members recalled happier times and shared whaling adventures that became grander with each retelling. Food was a constant cause for complaint. After hours spent cooped up in close quarters, seamen also found each other or the officers lacking and grew disgruntled. Occasionally this displeasure led to petty fights, desertion in foreign ports, or even, in extreme cases, mutiny.
Martha's Vineyard Museum