When the Charles W. Morgan opens to visitors on Saturday, take a look at the galley on the deck, and the captain's dining area on the tween deck. The crew for the 38th voyage, mercifully, is not adhering to the same diet that whaling men had (one reporter spied Dunkin Donuts aboard the ship a few weeks ago). But over 80 years the captains and crew ate a lot of meals aboard that ship--though the diet for greenhands was quite different than what the captain and officers ate.
The diet for most of the crew was hardly something to write home about. The men survived on salt-cured meat, dried beans, peas, dried fruits and vegetables, and hardtack, a type of bread or biscuit that was not perishable and often was soaked overnight to make it easier to eat the next day. There was a hardtack bakery in Edgartown during the golden age of whaling.
Food and water stores were replenished when the Morgan stopped at ports around the world. Turtles were often brought aboard as a food source. Dolphins, seabirds and fish were also sometimes caught and eaten, though it seems that they rarely ate the whales they caught.
The captain, however, had his own food supply. Edgartown’s own Thomas A. Norton, the Morgan’s first captain, had the following included in his stores: 1,200 pounds of butter, 300 pounds of cheese, 1,000 pounds of coffee, 35 pounds of green tea, 1,000 pounds of brown sugar, 300 pounds of raisins, 25 pounds of pepper, six pounds of cinnamon, one pound of cloves, 400 pounds of dried apples, one box of chocolate, six bottles of pepper sauce, 1,600 pounds of molasses, and lemon syrup.
Wine, rum and brandy were also on the provisions list, but because Captain Norton reportedly ran a temperate ship, it was probably used medicinally.