Friday, October 29, 2010

Good Old Books: Whaleman's World

It was a beautiful autumn day in 1848 when two young men met on the road to a busy Massachusetts whaling port. By nightfall they had signed on as hands for the whaling bark Polly.

"They had no idea how it felt to be on a sailing ship when it moved. They had never heard the creak of swaying masts or the whistle of wind through rigging. They had never touched ropes so hot they were slimed with tar or so cold they were frozen into steel, never smelled the miserable stink of disturbed bilge water or the lovely perfume of a spice island.

"They had never tasted salt junk or the sweetness of a banana picked from the tree at its exact moment of ripeness. There were hundreds of things they had never seen. An ocean of water so wide that no land touched it in any direction. A wild sea storm. A dead calm. A palm tree. A cannibal. An iceberg. The wonderful Southern Cross. A wandering albatross. And, most important of all, a living whale!"

They would, of course, feel and taste and see these things -- and this is the fascinating story of their two-year voyage, or how Matt and Tim found out what they wanted to do with their lives, of the duties an pleasures of life on board -- of the whaleman's world in all its variety and excitement.

Whaleman's World by Jan Henry
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