Illustration by Juliet Jacobson
Greenhands were foremast hands who came to the whaling trade with no experience at all. Drawn by advertisements that told of the possibility for making money on a whaling voyage, they came from all types of backgrounds. Some were country boys who had never left the farm; some were runaway slaves, apprentices, or criminals. Like the seamen, who had more experience, they were part of the two watches, each headed by a mate. The watches took turns working, four hours on, four hours off, with two "dog watches" of two hours each. While on a watch, the crew was responsible for cleaning the ship, manning the sails and rigging, repairing rigging and sails, and keeping watch for whales. During the chase, the foremast hands served as the oarsmen on the whaleboats. After the capture, they helped cut and try out the whale. Their share of the profits were among the smallest, about 1/200.
Print | Top of Page