Captains liked for their ships to look good coming into their home port. Rigging was set up, iron work cleaned, and paint reapplied where needed. The crew gathered on deck to take in the sights and sounds of shore. As the boat came into harbor, people crowded the wharves to welcome the ship home. The agents and owners of the ship hired a tug to take them out to greet the ship and to hasten the ship’s arrival to the dock.
Onlookers probably noticed different aspects of the returning vessel. Owners, who could expect the greatest share of the ship’s profits, were interested in the amount and condition of whale oil and baleen stored in the hull. Boat builders and suppliers identified wear and tear to the boat. They could congratulate themselves on the sea worthiness of the ship and anticipate much-needed repairs. Boardinghouse and tavern owners expected to provide lodging and refreshment to many arriving seamen who were not reuniting with family in town. Wives, children, sweethearts, and other relations gathered on the wharf to welcome the returning men.
Library of Congress