Captain’s Log and Account Books of the Whale Ship Marcus, Documenting Her 1837-1840 Pacific Voyage, with Accounts from this, and Other Voyages.
One journal and two account books, quarter calf over marbled boards, 33.5 cm. Unpaginated, but about 150 - 200 pp. each.
The “Marcus” was a 286-ton ship launched in 1823 in Duxbury, Mass. She was lost in the Bering Sea in 1853. Obed Shearman, her master, was born in Dartmouth, Mass. in 1803. On the voyage recorded in this log book, the “Marcus” sailed to the Azores, around the Horn, up the South American Coast, along the Line to Hawaii, north to the Bonin Islands and the Japan cruising grounds, before heading home. It was a successful voyage, returning 2366 barrels of sperm oil. This log is unusual in that it was kept by Captain Shearman rather than the mate, as was usually the practice. His entries are concise, but full of detail, recording ships spoken – home port, master, amount of oil, days out – events on board, weather conditions, sail handling, and catches and processing of at least 33 whales. Shearman also adds his own asides, such as, “Bound for the line, there is no prospect hear” (Jan 18, 1838) or, “I think that the Whales are scarce hear” – (May 25, 1839), and even “this is hard whaling I think it will be the last time that I com hear – Obed Shearman) (Feb. 19, 1839). The log breaks off at the end of June, 1839 when they turn for home, and resumes briefly a month later as they pass the Canaries, bound for New Bedford. The whaling started slowly at first, with good descriptions of their activities in the Azores. They rounded the Horn without too much trouble, and headed north. They caught only 3 whales in the Atlantic and on on their way up to the Line. Matters improved as they sailed west along the Equator, but the work was hard. Four named crewmen deserted when they stopped at Eimio (Moorea) in the Society Islands, and Shearman “shipd 5 natives.” Four months later, during a gam with an English whale ship, two named crewmen deserted the “Marcus” in favor of the new ship. “the crew refused to give them up but the Capt. consented to let me have 2 men…” The action continues as they head west and north, recruiting in Hawaii, then heading past the Gilbert Islands to the Japan Grounds, where the fishing was good and eventful, with a crewman receiving a serious injury, and an enraged mother whale destroying 2 boats while trying to protect her calf. There are no whale stamps in this log, but in every other respect it is a complete and classic example of the type, with good descriptions and the captain’s personal insights. At the very end of this log are 5 pages recording the beginnings of Shearmans 1841 voyage on the whale ship Oregon. The Marcus log is accompanied and enhanced by an account book containing itemized accounts of the “Marcus” on this voyage – in Fayal in August 1837, Society Islands May 1838, Hawaii November 1838, Bonin Islands May and June, 1839, and Pernambuco on the way home. Some of the entries are in a clerk’s tidy hand, but most seem to be Shearman’s own entries, made on the spot. These records are followed by slop accounts of about two dozen named crewmen throughout the voyage, from 1837 to 1840. The second account book, also in Shearmans hand, is from his 1841-1845 voyage aboard the Oregon. It begins with a 29-item list, Price of Slop Clothing in the Slop Chest, from a monkey jacket at $7.50 to suspenders at $0.25 a pair. This is followed by more than 100 pages of slop accounts for named crewmen. The lot of 3 journals