Nantucket Triangle

Move over Bermuda, there is a new triangle at sea to talk about. As you have undoubtedly heard (or read about) by now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) recently announced that they had positively identified the wreck of the Nantucket whaleship, the TWO BROTHERS. What’s left of her, mainly iron, stone, and brick remnants of the whaleship, lies on the seafloor on what’s known as French Frigate Shoals northwest of Hawaii within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Interestingly, the story of this shipwreck connects the small island of Nantucket with one of the largest marine protected areas in the world, thousands of miles away. The TWO BROTHERS had been under the command of Captain George Pollard (also Captain of the earlier ill-fated ESSEX and inspiration for Moby-Dick) when she ran aground, ending his whaling career. This find and the subsequent identification is important because it is the first of the great Nantucket whaleship fleet, long lost, to be located and now undergoing research. It adds depth to our knowledge of the vessels and people who served this global industry. Just think of it……a Nantucket whaleship found in Hawaii, underscoring how far from home the search for whale oil and whale bone took these mariners..

So where’s the triangle? Mystic Seaport (MSM) completes this triangle today, of course. Only here can one see the real thing, our CHARLES W. MORGAN and all her components. Here one can actually see and touch the trypots set in the bricks of the tryworks. Here one can sense the linkage, while on decks of the MORGAN, to the ESSEX and the TWO BROTHERS, Melville and Moby-Dick, and the great seamen of Nantucket. Now, given this find, NOAA, NHA, and MSM can work on creating joint exhibits – onsite and online – which will take advantage of NOAA’s underwater archaeological knowledge, Nantucket Historical’s knowledge of the captain, crew, and ship, and Mystic Seaport’s presentation of historical objects in situ. Together we can create a more complete representation of one of the greatest eras in American maritime commerce, as well as more fully tell the stories of those who carried out this work and exploration. Through our work together you will be able to “visit” all three corners of the whaling triangle.

By the way, the answer to the question posed in this space last month regarding Anna Tunnicliff and what it takes to be Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year and an Olympic gold medalist……endless training and an acute awareness of the physical world.

Steve