was a beautiful autumn day in 1848 when two young men met on the road to
a busy Massachusetts whaling port. By nightfall they had signed on as
hands for the whaling bark Polly.
had no idea how it felt to be on a sailing ship when it moved. They had
never heard the creak of swaying masts or the whistle of wind through
rigging. They had never touched ropes so hot they were slimed with tar
or so cold they were frozen into steel, never smelled the miserable
stink of disturbed bilge water or the lovely perfume of a spice island.
had never tasted salt junk or the sweetness of a banana picked from the
tree at its exact moment of ripeness. There were hundreds of things
they had never seen. An ocean of water so wide that no land touched it
in any direction. A wild sea storm. A dead calm. A palm tree. A
cannibal. An iceberg. The wonderful Southern Cross. A wandering
albatross. And, most important of all, a living whale!"
They would, of course, feel and taste and see these things -- and this
is the fascinating story of their two-year voyage, or how Matt and Tim
found out what they wanted to do with their lives, of the duties an
pleasures of life on board -- of the whaleman's world in all its
variety and excitement.
by Jan Henry
Thomas Nelson, 1970