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Owen Chase
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    (October 7, 1797-June 11, 1869)
    Born in Nantucket, Massachusetts
    First Mate of the whaleship 'Essex'
    Sailed from Nantucket for a two-year whale hunt, under Captain George Pollard (1819)
    Ship was rammed by an erratic sperm whale (November 20, 1820)
    Set adrift with members of his crew in a rowboat for nine-months; Claimed to have resorted to cannibalism to stay alive
    Penned a narrative account on the incident, 'Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex' (1821)
    Portrayed by Chris Hemsworth in Ron Howard's 'In the Heart of the Sea' (2015)
    He was institutionalized for eight years, near the end of his life.
    He married four times (periodically fathering children during his shore leaves, every 2-3 years).
    He was heavily criticized for detailing his partaking of cannibalism in his 'Narrative.'
    He overruled his superior, the more cautious but indecisive George Pollard, on nearly every major decision.
    He talked Capt. Pollard out of turning back for Nantucket after the boat was initially damaged by a squall.
    He had the opportunity to harpoon the sperm wale after it struck the boat the first time, but chose not to for fear that the movement of the tail could cause further damage to the ship (it proceeded to destroy the boat anyway).
    He talked Pollard out of rowing for Tahiti to get help, convincing him of rumors that cannibals inhabited the island (it had been colonized by missionaries for at least ten years).
    For some reason, George Pollard is routinely vilified for resorting to cannibalism, while Chase is made out by historians to be a hero (even though almost every problem they faced was his fault).
    He and his men traveled nearly 3,000 miles in a rowboat after the shipwreck.
    He survived 89 days facing piercing hunger, inclement weather, and the psychological trauma of watching his friends slowly die.
    When he returned from his ordeal, he found that he was the father of an eighteen-month baby girl.
    He understandably dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder for the rest of his life (he regularly hoarded food in the attic of his Nantucket home).
    His 'Narrative' was a clear blueprint for Herman Melville's 'Moby Dick' novel (most clearly in his physical descriptions of 'the whale').
    Unlike George Pollard, he didn't consign to drawing lots among his the crew members in his life boat to decide who would be eaten (he waited until they were dead before cutting them up and eating them).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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