There has been a discovery of a shipwrecked whaling vessel in the waters of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, 600 miles north of Honolulu.
Did the whale really trap Moby Dick?
The name of the vessel was the Two Brothers, from Nantucket. The ship slammed against a shallow reef and was sunk on February 11, 1823. The captain’s name was George Pollard, Jr. He wanted to stay with the ship as she went down, but the crew persuaded him to leave, and they were picked up the next morning.
The reason this should be of interest is because in 1823 the same man was the captain of a whaling vessel from Nantucket named Essex that was rammed by a sperm whale and sunk in the South Pacific. Captain Pollard and his crew were saved by escaping in three small boats that were on the Essex. Although they survived the sinking, they spent two months drifting in the Pacific before they were rescued by a passing ship. During these two months, they turned to cannibalism to stay alive. Sound familiar?
The book, Moby Dick, was completed in 1851, by Herman Melville. He wrote his book after listening to a story told to him by a crewmember from the Essex. Captain Ahab, from the book, had nothing in common with the real Captain Pollard. The Nantucket Historical Association stated that Melville was very impressed with Pollard, “To me, the most impressive man, tho’ wholly unassuming, even humble – that I ever encountered.”
Shipwrecking expeditions from 2008 to 2010 found an anchor from Two Brothers. They also found large pots for melting whale blubber, whale lances, and harpoon tips. Since this was the only wrecked whaling vessel from Nantucket to ever be found, it shows how important it is in telling stories about the early days of sailing, whaling, and maritime activities around the world.
The captain of the Essex and Two Brothers was a bit cursed in his maritime achievements. After his second shipwreck, he retired from whaling, became a watchman, and lived until he was almost 80.