On this day…

On November 20, 1820, the American whaler Essex was attacked by an 80-ton sperm whale 2,000 miles off the western coast of South America. The 238-ton Essex was hunting sperm whales for the precious oil and bone that they possess when an angered bull whale rammed the ship twice, capsizing it. Twenty crew members managed to escape in three boats, but only five survived the 83-day journey to the coast of South America, where they were saved by other ships. (Source: The Worst-Case Scenario Daily Survival Calendar 2005, published by Chronicle Books.) If you have any interest in tales of human adventure and survival, I highly recommend reading The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex by the ship’s First Mate, Owen Chase. This amazing story was the real-life inspiration for Melville’s Moby Dick.

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