On November 20, the crew sighted a huge male sperm whale leading a pod. Three small whaling boats were launched under the command of the captain and the ship’s two mates. They had soon managed to corral several of the whales when a calf smashed into Chase’s boat forcing him to return to the main ship. It was then that the young cabin boy Nickerson spotted a looming shape underneath the bow of the Essex. It was a mighty sperm whale some 85 feet long, weighing as much as 80 tons.

First mate Owen Chase wrote later how he saw the whale “appear with ten-fold fury and vengeance in his aspect. The surf flew in all directions about him with the continual violent thrashing of his tail. His head about half out of the water, and in that way he came upon us, and again struck the ship … I could distinctly see him smite his jaws together as if distracted with rage and fury.”

The huge creature smashed into the Essex repeatedly, on each occasion causing it to list even more. The men just had time to save some of the provisions and regroup in three small whaling boats before their ship succumbed to the waves. “My God, Mr. Chase, what is the matter?” Captain Pollard asked in utter shock. “We have been stove by a whale,” came the bitter reply. –This Real-Life Whaling Disaster Inspired ‘Moby-Dick’ By Xabier Armenda´riz

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a huge disaster that is inspired by a true story.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the biggest disaster in your life and what you learned from surviving it.

Art Prompt: Whales

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about using real-life events to inspire creativity.

Photo Credit: Walfang zwischen 1856 und 1907 on Wikimedia

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