The Great Open-Boat Journeys

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Traveling from Nantucket, Massachusetts, to South America, the Essex met its doom in the Pacific Ocean in November 1820, when a sperm whale attacked and destroyed the ship. The crew, adrift in their small whaleboats, faced storms, thirst, illness and starvation, and were even reduced to cannibalism for survival. However, succeeding in one of the great open-boat journeys of all time, the few survivors were picked up off South America. Their story, spread widely in America in the 19th century, provided inspiration for Melville 's tale of a ship captain seeking revenge on an elusive whale.
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