Ishmael is starting to feel like the entire universe is just one giant practical joke at his expense, and he feels detached and ready to accept the abuse of Fate.
As Ishmael’s pulled up on deck of the ship (he’s is the last to be rescued), he asks Queequeg whether this sort of thing – chasing a whale in a storm and almost drowning – is common on whaling voyages. Queequeg agrees stoically that it is.
Next, Ishmael asks Stubb if ordering his men to go out under these dangerous conditions is usual for a prudent man like Starbuck, and Stubb says that it is.
Finally, Ishmael turns to Flask and asks if most whalemen regularly row themselves backwards into the jaws of death. Flask agrees that it’s pretty typical.
After these assurances of what his future on the Pequod is likely to be, Ishmael decides to make a last will and testament, appointing Queequeg as his executor.
Ishmael tells us that this is the fourth time in his sea-going life that he’s made a will.
It always makes him feel better, almost as though his death has already happened and now he’s living on borrowed time.