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Sea Captains: San Francisco 1800s

Captain of the Balena, a New England whaling ship out of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

On September 29, 1819, the Balena was one of the first two whaling ships to visit the Hawaiian Islands (the other was the Equator under the command of Elisha Folger).

Sperm Whale Physeter Macrocephalus.

In the fall of 1819, while anchored in Kealakekua Bay, the Balena harpooned a large sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus; Hawaiian name: palaoa; image right) that yielded more than 100 barrels of oil; by this date, commercial whaling had already begun to diminish whale populations worldwide, and the whales of the Atlantic were already documented as being overhunted.

The Sea Chart

The Illustrated History of Nautical Maps and Navigational Charts
The Sea Chart.The Sea Chart.John Blake
The sea chart was one of the key tools by which ships of trade, transport and conquest navigated their course across the oceans. John Blake looks at the history and development of the chart and the related nautical map, in both scientific and aesthetic terms, as a means of safe and accurate seaborne navigation. This handsome work contains 150 color illustrations including the earliest charts of the Mediterranean made by thirteenth-century Italian merchant adventurers, as well as eighteenth-century charts that became strategic naval and commercial requirements and led to Cook's voyages in the Pacific, the search for the Northwest Passage, and races to the Arctic and Antarctic.

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers, and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California, various Maritime Museums around the world.

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