Martha's Vineyard Museum
Leaving the voyage without permission.
Desertion was a major problem for whaling captains. Whalemen often felt that they were being treated unfairly aboard the ship where they found life more dangerous and full of hardship than they had been told when they signed on for the voyage. Deserters were willing to take their chances in a foreign land just to escape their lives aboard the whaling ship. If sailors deserted, the Captain would file a report at the next port with a consular office. The Consul would fill out a "Certificate of Oath and Declaration of Master to Desertion of Seamen or Mariners." Pictured here is the desertion certificate for the Bark Minnesota, from the Seychelles consulate office in 1881.