2636 Journal for the brig Leonidas Asa Grinnell, master, from Westport, Ma. on a whaling voyage to the Atlantic Ocean. The book was kept by Walter Bushnell, the ships carpenter, and a scrimshander. The vessel sailed to the Azores and on to the Atlantic Coast of Africa where it remained for much of the journey.
There are daily entries commencing with the departure on Aug. 22nd, 1855 until the return on May 1st, 1857. There are details about sighting and or catching blackfish, humpbacks, killer whales, grampuses, sperm whales, etc., catching turtles, fishing for food, provisioning while ashore, sending mail home via other vessels, “maiting” with other whalers for catching whales and dividing the oil. With few exceptions due to fog or cloudy weather, latitudes and longitudes are consistently noted. The voyage was quite uneventful with but minimal discipline problems among the crew. While along the African coast the writer notes “thousands” of negroes coming aboard and refers to them on other occasions as “darkeys” and “nigs”. The vessel raised and spoke and gamed with many, many other named whalers as well as a few merchantmen. Of great interest, and quite unusual in whaling logs and journals, are no fewer than 21 references to the writer and crew doing scrimshon and scrimshoning, and an unfinished piece of whalebone destined to be carved into a double sheaved block accompanies the log.
The entries are quite legible with no missing pages, though some are loose.
While the original boards are present, the book would benefit from conservation. Approx. 182 pages; 13 1/2 in. x 8 1/2 in. with label of John Kehew of New Bedford pasted on the inside front cover. There is a page at the back with 23 whale stamps, each with a boat designation, presumably crediting the catch of a sperm whale by the particular boat. Other whale stamps are in the margins throughout the book. Bushnell later used some back pages for a general accounting book. There is also a letter dated July 30th ’88 offering him work as a carpenter and blacksmith at old wages of 1.75 per day at a mill. This may relate to a small page with a calendar for February, 1882, listing amounts for about 14 days.
The whaling brig Leonidas was later sold to New Bedford and was one of the “Stone Fleet” sunk off Charleston Harbor in 1861.