Study Guide

In the Heart of the Sea Chapter 6

By Nathaniel Philbrick

Chapter 6

The Plan

  • The next morning, the crew gathers more equipment from the Essex, which is still slowly sinking. They "make sails for the three whaleboats" from the Essex's tattered sails (6.5).
  • In addition, the crew also "built up the sides of each boat by more than a half a foot" (6.7). This is a stroke of genius, as it protects the men (and their food) from the salty waves.
  • This flurry of productive activity ends as night falls. The crewmembers tie the whaleboats back up to the Essex and try not to freak out too badly.
  • Given that the ship is almost entirely sunk by the next morning, our dudes had better think up a plan ASAP. Captain Pollard suggests traveling west to the Society Islands, which would take about thirty days.
  • Fearful of savage cannibals (ironic, huh?), Chase and Joy disagree. They want to head south and catch an easterly wind to the coasts of Chile or Peru—which is a perilous trek by any measure.
  • Chase and Joy manage to convince Pollard. Spoiler alert: this is a bad decision. Somehow, Chase and Joy are unaware of the fact that there's "a thriving English mission" on the Society Islands (6.22).
  • Now it's time to split up into whaleboats: six in Chase's boat and seven in the other two. Pollard gets a majority-Nantucketer crew, including Coffin, Ramsdell, and Ray. Chase gets Nickerson. Joy, being the lowest-ranking officer, is given a majority African American crew. We thought Quakers were supposed to be not racist?
  • Finally, the crewmembers begin their journey.

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