“Moby Dick” Revisited After Sunken Ship Discovery in Hawaii

Filed in Gather News Channel by on February 13, 2011 0 Comments

A sunken ship, Two Brothers, was found by maritime heritage archaeologists 600 miles northwest of Honolulu. What has this to do with Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick”?

Melville’s book was inspired by George Pollard Jr. and his whaling vessel Essex, rammed and sunk by a sperm whale in  1820. The captain and surviving crew resorted to cannabalism over the two months adrift at sea, before rescue.

Melville finished “Moby-Dick” in 1851, using another crew member’s account of the Essex event with the whale. He finally met Pollard in Nantucket after he completed his book, and if Melville’s quote is any indication,  Pollard bore no character resemblance to his character, Captain Ahab. “To the islanders he was a nobody. To me, the most impressive man, tho’ wholly unassuming, even humble — that I ever encountered.”

In 1823, the cursed captain and his new whaling ship, Two Brothers, hit a reef off Hawaii. Pollard and his crew were rescued the following day, but the Nantucket, Massachusetts whaling ship sank.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls the 188-year-old find “the first discovery of a wrecked whaling ship from Nantucket, Mass., the birthplace of America’s whaling industry.”

CNN reports that expeditions have recovered the Two Brothers anchor, pots for melting blubber, whaling lances, harpoon tips, ceramics, and some of the ship’s rigging. The ship rests off French Frigate Shoals.


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Retired Mainiac who likes to write humor about life in general, politics when necessary, and dysfunctional family life in particular.

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