Working Waterfront

Working Waterfront (HM16E4)

Location: New Bedford, MA 02740 Bristol County
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Country: United States of America
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N 41° 38.142', W 70° 55.26'

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New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park

— National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior —

Working Waterfront-Standing here during the heyday of whaling you would have seen and heard the bustling of a whaling port preparing for sea: ship carpenters building vessels from great white oak timbers, and caulkers hammering oakum—-hemp mixed with tar—-into the ships' seams. Coopers shaped staves for casks that would hold whale oil. And packers packed barrels with hard tack for whalemen to eat at sea.

New Bedford's wharves were alive with sail riggers crawling about ship decks and masts, tarring the lines and hoisting and fastening on sails. Ship painters worked on new and old vessels afloat and dry—docked for repair. Specialized craftsmen repaired the ships' tryworks, where blubber was melted into oil. Much work and preparation was always necessary to ensure a safe and successful voyage.

Coopers made casks for many uses and each whaling vessel had a cooper onboard. Some casks were fitted with provisions and others contained extra barrel staves and heads so casks could be made at sea to store whale oil.

Ship carpenters overhauled every whaler that returned to port. A typical New Bedford whaler made six voyages in its lifetime and each voyage typically lasted two to four years. (Photos Courtesy New Bedford Whaling Museum)

The wharves on both sides of the river were lined with mechanics, fitting ships for long voyages to distant seas?. Hulls were examined, weak spots strengthened, spars rigged and sails overhauled, and new bolts put in.

HM NumberHM16E4
Placed ByNational Park Service
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, September 20th, 2014 at 8:28pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)19T E 339999 N 4611112
Decimal Degrees41.63570000, -70.92100000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 41° 38.142', W 70° 55.26'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds41° 38' 8.52" N, 70° 55' 15.60" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)508, 774
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 216-228 MacArthur Dr, New Bedford MA 02740, US
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