William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan
Finding aid for
Finding aid created by
Elihu Bunker Journal, 1797-1799
Clements Staff and Meg Hixon, December 2011
Elihu Bunker journal
The Elihu Bunker journal chronicles the seal-hunting voyage of the brig Rebecca from December 19, 1797-October 16, 1799. The ship traveled from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, to the Cape Verde Islands, the Falkland Islands, and Mocha Island (off of the west coast of Chile).
The material is in English
William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.
Elihu Bunker Journal, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
Elihu Bunker, a Quaker, served as second mate onboard the brig Rebecca during its 1797-1799 seal-hunting voyage from New York to the Cape Verde Islands, the Falkland Islands, and Chile. Under the command of Uriel Coffin, the ship left Sandy Hook, New Jersey, on December 19, 1797, and returned to Staten Island on October 16, 1799.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The Elihu Bunker journal (63 pages) chronicles the seal-hunting voyage of the brig Rebecca from December 19, 1797-October 16, 1799. The ship traveled from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, to the Cape Verde Islands, the Falkland Islands, and Mocha Island (off of the west coast of Chile).
The volume contains a combination of log entries made at sea and diary entries made on shore. Bunker regularly recorded the wind direction, the ship's course, and location, and remarks about daily activities onboard. Most remarks pertain to the ship's sails, making repairs, wildlife, and the ship's crew. Within the first few weeks of the voyage, Bunker reported a crewmember's death from smallpox and venereal disease (January 5, 1798).
In mid-February 1798, the Rebecca reached the Cape Verde Islands, where her crew took on salt and prepared for a longer voyage around South America. Before reaching the Falkland Islands in mid-May, the crew "Saw a large Blazing Star In the Northern Hemisphere" (March 22, 1798) and caught 4 porpoises for making oil (April 24, 1798). On June 25, 1798, after trading goods for seal furs and skins in the Falklands, the brig rounded Cape Horn, and in August the crew temporarily settled on Mocha Island, off Chile's western coast. Bunker and others lived under a leaky auxiliary boat while constructing a more permanent shelter, and Bunker described incidents on the island over the following 8 months, including his near drowning and the loss of 2 months' provisions (pp. 41-47). On May 10, 1799, the Rebecca left Chile for New York; the crew arrived there on October 16. The final 4 pages of Bunker's journal have an abstract of the entire voyage, including the Rebecca 's daily latitude and longitude.
- Cape Verde--Description and travel.
- Falkland Islands--Description and travel.
- Mocha Island (Chile)--Description and travel.
- Rebecca (Brig)
- Seafaring life.
- Sealing ships--History--18th century.