"He went whaling prepared as no man had been before him, and he went with an eager and an open mind. He describes as no other author has done the multifarious duties of the cooper, the whalecraftsman, the rigger, the subtleties of boat gear and of stowage, the homely whims and prejudices of the most conservative and practical of men … he has returned unsoured from his voyaging, and now lays his booty before us." — Robert Cushman Murphy, in the Introduction
Since the days of Moby Dick, whaling has been the subject of countless books, articles and works of art. Few books on the subject, however, have attained the classic stature of the present volume. Written by a famed marine artist, born in the whaling center of New Bedford, Massachusetts, this book presents whaling from the vantage point of one who not only sailed aboard a whaler himself, but possessed the observant eye of an artist and the literary skill to record what he saw and thought as the great age of whaling drew to a close.
Salted with wit and wisdom of a Yankee seaman, Ashley's engrossing account presents the "bloody and desperate quest" for the great whales and their valuable meat and oil. It offers detailed, evocative pictures of whaling traditions, life aboard ship, the myriad details of whaleship construction, rigging and navigation, gear and craft; much whalemen's lore concerning methods of attack and the behavior of the quarry, as well as sidelights on the unique personalities of whalemen from New Bedford, Nantucket, and Long Island ports.
Enhanced with 150 superb illustrations, The Yankee Whaler is perhaps the definitive treatment of 19th- century whaling. Not only a complete and well-documented picture of every aspect of the topic, the book at the same time evokes the excitement and drama of the chase and the romance of the high seas.