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Tom Lohre painted as Ahab in the last chapeter of Moby Dick.

16” X 20”, Oil on canvas, work in progress, Portraits, Traditional

January 16, 2017

From Facebook Post:

Dropping silently into absurdity again and again, now Herman Melville has been even more preserved in PBS’s show, “Into The Deep: America, Whaling & The World: American Experience”

Funny, it happens I am painting myself as Parsee, the devil like creature, a stowaway with permission from the Captain Ahab! It's my Avatar!
Just what is it about Moby Dick? I love his use of words and sentence structure. What he wrote about is less important, to me.
Everything Herman had he put in Moby Dick. Being truthful to the facts and telling a fictitious back-story is the key. The novel was his first to develop wildly fictitious characters.
He worked hard to be all he could be and had the pleasure of the people around him to allow him to do it. It's tough being an artist but better to be allowed.
Any well-meant form can lead to perpetuity.


Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Chapter 134
Page 560
While Daggoo and Queequeg were stopping the strained planks; and as the whale swimming out from them, turned, and showed one entire flank as he shot by them again; at that moment a quick cry went up. Lashed round and round to the fish's back; pinioned in the turns upon turns in which, during the past night, the whale had reeled the involutions of the lines around him, the half torn body of the Parsee was seen; his sable Parsee frayed to shreds; his distended eyes turned full upon old Ahab.


Comment posted about PBS’s Into the Deep from the American Experience Series

Man’s Extinction and the Whaleboat

The impact of whaling is the same as every other harvesting to extinction. Man’s rape of the planet is ever ending till it is all gone. The rich get richer and we suffer. Gas fracking is our new whale. Why cannot we develop a sustainable livelihood? I hope the government sees giving tax breaks to lifestyles that are sustainable instead of tax breaks to a slow death of the planet.

Tom's knowledge of the whaling industry is focused on how to sail a whaleboat. Painting himself as Parsee, one of Ahab’s devil crew tied to Moby Dick as Ahab calls his men to lower for Moby on the third day of the chase with the Peqoud in the background has given him new knowledge of the whaleboat while dreaming of traveling the same long distances the crew of the Essex did.


Looking to rig the sails on the Peqoud properly I ran across this passage about the top sails.
From Omega Last of the Barques by Frederick D. Wilhelmsen
Page 86
I saw him clew up the mizzen t'gans'l, singlehanded! In order to understand what a feat this was, you must under¬stand something of the way in which yards and sails are worked in a square-rigger.
As many of my readers undoubtedly know, the upper tops'ls, upper t'gans'ls and royals-the third, fifth, and sixth yards and sails (these last two kites missing on the Omega)-are moved up and down by halyards operated from the deck. The halyards are made of a chain tye which is fastened to the centre of the yard and then rove through a sheave-hole in the mast, plus a chain runner which is run through a single block made fast to the tye and then brought downward where it is joined to the hal-yard tackle at the other side of the vessel. In order to set the upper tops'l-let us say-the halyards are led to a capstan which is then fitted with bars. Throwing all their strength behind these bars, half a dozen sailors tramp around the capstan and thus wind in the halyards which automatically lift the yard far above the deck. (Sometimes this is done without capstans, by the simple procedure of having a line of men led by the bosun heave away on the halyards: the bosun curses the yard up the mast, inch by inch, curse by curse.) When the sail is to be taken in, the halyards are simply "let go," and the yard comes creaking down its parrel-the sliding collar by which the yard is held to the mast and by which it is both moved from side to side and heaved up and down. As the yard is lowered, the wind is spilled from the sail and the sail is bunched up below the yard.
The other yards, however, are stationary. When sail is set, it is simply dropped from the yard and then sheeted home. When sail is taken in, it must be clewed up to the yard. This is done principally by means of clewlines and buntlines. Clewlines are "ropes" (my apologies to the dead democracy of the sea!) leading from the clew-either of the lower corners of the sail-to the deck; buntlines are attached to the foot of the sail-its "bottom"-thence to the mast and then down to the deck where they are used to spill and gather a sail to its yard.
It takes three or four men to clew up a t'gans'l from the maindeck, but Paita did it alone. Instead of hauling on the lines, he leaped six feet into the rigging, hung on, and then forced the line down by the weight of his body. Slowly and unbelievably the port clew of the sail curled b:wk on itself.
Repeating the procedure and then tackling the buntlines, he mastered that great sail, by his own efforts.

A great resource to get the whaleboat and its crew perfect. Tom built a virtual whaleboat in Poser 7.

The Whaleboat, A study of Design and Construction and use from 1850 to 1970 by Willits D. Ansel

Elizabeth Oldham
Research Associate/Copy Editor
NHA Research Library
7 Fair Street
PO Box 1016
Nantucket, MA 02554
P (508) 228-1655 x 1
F (508) 325-7968

Was nice enough to send me this copy from “Whaling Prints in the Francis B. Lothrop Collection” by Beth Ingalls; Peabody Museum of Salem, 1987

It clearly shows all but one square sail furled.


Dear Mr. Lohre:

Re: your question: I am painting a whaleboat and have questions about the sail getting in the way of the Thawartman's oar. Did he row over the mast or under it?

When the whaleboat was not under sail, the heels of the mast and other spars would be tucked under the afteroarsman's thwart and then stick out the back of the whaleboat. That way, the spars were completely clear of the oars. It is almost impossible to row the whaleboat without moving the mast, spars, and sail out of the way. (I say this after having spent over 30 years rowing and sailing whaleboats at Mystic Seaport Museum as foreman of the demonstration squad.) I found the attached image on Google Images, but it is in fact one of our own whaleboats. You can see how the mast is sticking out the back.

Please write with any questions.

All the best,
Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, Ph.D.
Demonstration Squad Foreman



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