Animal Encounters

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Whale drawings, Logbook #019

One Saturday in March of 1864, a man aboard the whale ship John P. West wrote in his journal, “My Pidgeon layed 4 eggs.”  He also documented the day that his dog fell overboard (Logbook #027).  Nine years earlier Asenath Taber, daughter of a whaler, noted the “beautiful little chicken” her family had on board their ship (Logbook #002).  For these and other people at sea, animals could provide food, serve as companions, and bestow a sense of comfort during what were often years-long journeys abroad.

The life of a whaler was often one of extremes – some days were exciting, with several whales encountered and caught, while others were long and lonely, with nothing on the horizon and feelings of listlessness and homesickness setting in.  Sightings of whales and other animals receive frequent note in many of the journals, with log keepers recording a variety of wild encounters, including sperm whales, right whales, turtles, porpoises, Portugese man o’ war, an array of birds and fish, and – as the log keeper aboard the Courser states rather ominously in his entry from October 6, 1860 – “Monsters of the Deep” (Logbook #300).   Read more

One hull of a boat….

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A different twist this week: a phone-a-visitor.  In conjunction with my volunteering at the Chris-Craft Archives at The Mariners’ Museum library at Christopher Newport University, we receive phone calls from all over the world concerning various Chris-Craft boats.  The mode of reference for research and responses to the callers usually hinges on the hull number of the boat as given at the time of construction.  This is the basic requirement.  I  took a call from a gentlemen from New Hampshire who said that he had a hull plate from a Chris-Craft, but that is all!  He did not know if the boat still existed, as it may have sunk, wrecked, or just died.  At any rate,  he wants plans and drawing so that he can build  the boat around the hull number, as he is a boat builder and can use CAD (computer aided design) to accomplish this effort.  ( 37-foot boat)  While we may never know the end of this story, but I can assure you this will be “one hull of a boat”!