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The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex: A Narrative Account by Owen Chase, First Mate
On November 20, 1820, a sperm whale repeatedly rammed the whaleship Essex, causing her to sink. The 20-man crew were left in three small, open boats in the middle of the Pacific with little food and only 200 gallons of water. Bereft of charts, the boats sailed due east in the hopes of sighting land. Battered by storms, the boats became separated. Some 90 days later, a few men were rescued -- but not before they had been forced to make a terrible decision. (1821, 1999)

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