Owen Chase's memoir of the sinking of the Essex by a whale, which inspired Herman Melville's epic Moby-Dick and the film In the Heart of the Sea. Owen Chase was the first mate on the ill-fated American whaling ship Essex, which was attacked and sunk by a sperm whale in the southern Pacific Ocean in 1820. The crew spent months at sea in leaking boats and endured the blazing sun, attacks by killer whales, and lack of food. The men were forced to resort to cannibalism before the final eight survivors were rescued. Chase recorded the tale of the ship's sinking and the following events with harrowing clarity in the Wreck of the Whale Ship Essex: "I turned around and saw him about one hundred rods [500 m or 550 yards] directly ahead of us, coming down with twice his ordinary speed of around 24 knots.