When the agent prepared to launch a ship, he walked to the nearby chandler. There he purchased a long list of supplies that would be necessary for four years at sea. These items included tinware, crockery, medicine, navigational equipment, candles, guns, papers and pens, books and bibles. There was no telling whether it would be possible to find such supplies in foreign ports. Trade goods, such as calico and liquor, were also ordered for the voyage. These items would be exchanged for water and food from Pacific islanders.
The agent also visited an outfitter to place an order for men. The outfitter recruited sailors for a voyage, supplied these men with necessary luggage, and delivered them to the ship the day before it set sail. To recruit men, the outfitter searched the boarding houses and bars of New Bedford. There he found many experienced seamen who would serve as mates and boatsteerers.
Martha's Vineyard Museum