History : Nov-Dec 2016
16 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 MILESTONES HIROYA MINAKUCHI/GETTY IMAGES BRIDGEMAN/ACI The huge creature smashed into the Essex repeatedly, on each occasion caus- ing it to list even more. The men just had time to save some of the provisions and regroup in three small whaling boats be- fore their ship succumbed to the waves. “My God, Mr. Chase, what is the matter?” Captain Pollard asked in utter shock. “We have been stove by a whale,” came the bitter reply. Adrift in the small boats, her crew were as far as they could possibly be from any known land. They inventoried the pro- visions they had salvaged: around 300 pounds of biscuits, several casks of wa- ter, and some of the Galápagos turtles. Pollard, Chase, and Joy each took charge of one of the small whale boats. Pollard proposed heading for one of the small Pa- cific islands, such as Tahiti, which he cal- culated could be reached within 30 days. But Chase, believing those islands to be inhabited by cannibals, stubbornly op- posed this plan and, along with the inex- perienced Joy, persuaded Captain Pollard that they must attempt the longer jour- ney back to the South American coast. Set Adrift Pollard and Chase had saved the navi- gation instruments from the wreckage, and decided that Joy should simply follow their lead. They fixed their course toward the coast. In his diary of the voyage, dis- covered in 1960, cabin boy Thomas Nick- erson wrote how quickly they all realized, “the slender thread upon which our lives were hung.” The officers rationed the biscuits ac- cording to Chase’s calculations, allowing just 500 calories a day per person. But the shortage of water soon became critical. A month later, on the verge of dying of RESCUED! THIS ETCHING re-creates the moment that the three Essex sailors who had stayed be- hind on Henderson Island were rescued by an Australian ship searching for them. Approaching the shore was difficult due to the reefs and the strong tide near the island. SPERM WHALES are the largest of the toothed whales. Albinism is a rare trait in the whales, which are typically gray in color.