Four Years Aboard the Whaleship. Embracing Cruises in the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Antarctic Oceans, in the years 1855, ‘6, ‘7, ‘8, ‘9.

Whitecar, an intelligent observer, sailed from New Bedford aboard the Pacific, on a whaling voyage which took him to Antarctic waters, Australia & New Zealand. His narrative gives good details of the whaler’s life on ship and ashore from 1855-59, one of the best for the time, including observations & comparisons of whaling equipment and practices. Whitecar includes much on the West Australian coast, visiting the Vasse & Cape Leeuwin a number of times. He spends time in Albany (King Georges Sound), visits Geraldton (Champion Bay), Esperence (the Recherche Archipelago) and the Houtmans Abrolhas. In observing W.A., he comments "I didn’t see a glass of spirits drank. Ale and beer were however swallowed without regard to quality or quantity." The majority of the book relates to West Australian waters & anecdotes. A very readable & informative accounts, one of the best we’ve read on West Australia. [This annotation is partly plagiarized in a Bartfield listing for the same book.]

Whitecar’s account is quite a charming account of the whaling life, somewhat sanitized for the domestic reader, pointing out the foibles and peccadilloes of sailors on other ships but seeing his ship as something of a model of discipline and benign leadership.

p. 30-31: The first Sunday intervening after our departure from home, proved a bright, beautiful day, the sun rising in gorgeous splendor. After breakfast the chief mate went throughout the crew, and gave to all who were not already provided, a Bible or Testament, also tracts and religious papers. These books, I believe, were supplied by a Tract Society, in New Bedford, who customarily place the word of God aboard every ship that leaves the harbor. The books were all received with thankfulness; and I will here take occasion to state that I never heard a sailor speak irreverently of the Bible. Men aboard ship I have heard do so, but only in three instances, and in those cases they were neither sailors nor landsmen—incapable of filling a respectable position on either element; therefore their opinions were of little value.

p. 96 It will be noticed that three-fifths of our whaling up to this time, has been on Sunday, and subsequently, this day of days proved equally fortunate for us. I do not wish to defend the practice of Sunday whaling, and think that if a man makes it an invariable rule to whale only on week days, that Providence would so dispose it that he should not be a loser. We saw several of these Sunday ships, as they are called, and in each instance they had quite as much oil as their neighbors;… In fact, the temptation is strong; and strange to say, most whalers see greater numbers of whales on the Sabbath than on any other day.

p. 97: On the 23d of May [1856] we spoke the barque Ann, of Sag Harbor, and from her received papers five and a half months old; they were treasures to us, and were read with intense interest, advertisements and all coming in for a share of attention; these papers were full of anticipated troubles with England….

p. 127: …on the same day, by the ship Alexander, belonging to the same owners as our own barque, I received letters from home; and although nine months old, they were heartily welcome. None but the wanderer from home and friends knows, or can imagine, the joy and comfort imparted by good news from home. Such events are the oases in our desert. Newspapers were also sent to me; and I read them completely through, advertisements and all, with a degree of attention I had never before bestowed on a printed sheet.

p. 157, gives an account of the auction of a drowned man’s property: the money produced by such sale being handed over to the friends of the deceased, if they can be found; but if unable to do so, it is usually given to the Seamen’s Friend Society.

p. 197, alludes to reading of a J. Fennimore Couper work.