At certain ports, shipmasters found it relatively easy to replace seamen by recruiting local men to join their crews. The Azores or the Cape Verde Islands in the mid-1800s were places where captains could find native men eager to sign on for a voyage. By the late 19th century, some whaling captains sailed from the United States with a small crew, expecting to add Portuguese-speaking boatsteerers on route to the whale hunting grounds. Pacific island ports also boasted native labor that was relatively cheap and skilled. Men who signed on to a voyage in the Pacific were paid less than those who set out from the United States.
National Archives and Records Administration