Beane’s voyage in the ‘Java’ 1864-67, in which he travelled to Hawaii, the Canton, Gilbert, and Marshall Islands, Australia, the Indian Ocean, in search of whales. Beane did successfully rise from a humble seaman to captain of a whaler.
p. 4: My father’s objection to the perusal of “yellow covered” literature was, at times, very emphatic. So much so in fact that even to the present day I have the most vivid remembrance of the artistic manner in which he handled the subject. His wordless remarks were punctuated with exclamation points which I furnished in perfect rhythm with the descending rod, cut by myself for the occasion. These chastisements were nearly always the outcome of my neglecting certain chores, of which there were many, for the more agreeable occupation of finishing an exciting chapter of the “Pirate of the Gulf” or some kindred tale, and the scene of the reckoning was behind the northeast corner of the great bar, whose broadside must still echo my vehement promises of better attention to business. That these little happenings had a very wholesome effect in my case there is no doubt, but never under any circumstances did I relinquish my intention or desire to read books of adventure and at all times openly expressed my determination to go to sea—with the consent of my parents, if they would give it—but to go in any case.
p. 18, when newly aboard ship: Not wishing to exhibit any weakness in the presence of people, who were wont to make game of such troubles, the desire was controlled with an effort and I managed to climb over the ship’s side, although with considerable difficulty.
The smell of tar and something worse, which I was told was “bilge water,” did not by any means decrease the feeling of squeamishness that possessed me, and I soon discovered a surprising unsteadiness in my legs entirely beyond my control.
“Hello, shipmate. What are ye, a pint or two off yer course?”
It was a tall, honest-eyed chap who spoke and I concluded that he was a sailor, for he puffed vigorously at a short, black pipe, the tales I had read seeming to connect the two in my, just then, befogged brain.
“If you mean by that,” I answered, “to ask if I’m sick, I am certainly a point or two off the what do you call it?”
He laughed good naturedly and said, “I beg yer parding shipmate, I thought ye’d come aboard like a good many others, two or three sheets in the wind, but I see ‘twas me whats off the course, so bear a hand an’ I’ll gi’ ye a lift, an’ we’ll git that dunnage o’ yourn inter th’ fo’c’s’l, pick ye out a berth an’ lash that ‘er donkey so’s ye c’n go ter house- keepin’ reg’lar like.”
p. 58-59: Nor was there any monotony to me in the swelling sails tugging at the masts in the stiff breeze, or idly flapping against them in the calm, or in the rise and fall of the ship’s hull as she lifts on the swell of the ocean, bowing her head to meet the next. The “cat’s paw” that ruffles the surface of the sea, the glassy water in absence of any wind, the fitful breeze, the strong gale, the howling storm, and the ship outriding all in safety, one condition of things following another in such rapid succession leaves no opportunity for monotony on board an American whaleship.
p. 114-15: In any case the crew is eager for a “gam,” and a call to man the boat is quickly responded to in all weathers. The captain of one ship goes on board the other, then the mate of that ship returns with a boat’s crew of his own and the “gammoning,” or visiting, sometimes lasts well into the small hours of the morning.
During a “gam,” sleep is out of the question. News from other ships of the fleet is rehearsed, books are exchanged, yarns are swapped, experiences related, and the hours slip rapidly by.
At such times the ship that has a fiddler or a good singer on board is very popular with the crews of vessels not so fortunate… . Tales, well told, are eagerly listened to, and truth and fiction are retailed for the benefit of the visiting crews.
p. 334, a burial at sea off Ascension Island: When all who wished had taken a last look at the thin, upturned face, exposed to view through the open seam, I closed it with palm and needle. It fell to me to read the burial service, to which the ship’s company listened with uncovered heads.
“Dust to dust” the order, “Let it go.” The gangway board was tilted toward the sea—a slide, a plunge of the body and it was borne by the weight of the sand, down, down, down into the blue waters, yet true to the tradition which every sailor knows—It turned its face toward us, and bowed before it disappeared.