The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex A first-hand account of one of history's most extraordinary maritime disasters [ePub]

by Owen Chase

In 1819, the whaleship 'Essex' set sail from Nantucket for the South Pacific to hunt and kill grey-headed whales - among the largest and most powerful creatures in the ocean. That journey was to end in one of the most dramatic maritime disasters of all time - and one which became the inspiration for Herman Melville's 'Moby Dick'.

On the morning of 20 November 1820, more than a thousand miles from the nearest land, the 'Essex' was sunk, rammed by an enraged sperm whale. Twenty sailors managed to scramble into three small boats and took to the open sea, but only eight survived what was to follow: three months of terror, exhaustion and crippling starvation.

Some months later sailing off the coast of South America, the brig 'Indian' came across a small boat. In it were three men, sunken-eyed and emaciated, whose ninety-day ordeal at sea had forced them to rip out the heart, separate the limbs and eat the flesh of one of their dead shipmates.

One of these survivors was Owen Chase, the first mate of the ill-fated 'Essex'. Amazingly, he had kept a journal which records these extraordinary events, and this book is his story ...



Back to Top