Mary E. Nason

For the most part, Provincetown whalers confined their rovings to the Atlantic Ocean. But a few intrepid masters and crews took their vessels to the other side of the world; perhaps none so far and so early as Captain Harvey Sparks, aboard the Mary E. Nason. In a journey lasting almost three years, from June 1868 to May 1871, the Nason reached the Pacific Ocean — the first Provincetown whaler to do so. She traveled there through the Strait of Magellan at the southernmost tip of South America; a journey of 10,000 miles just to get to the passageway, which she reached in December 1868, before the whaling trip could begin in earnest. In August 1870, Isaac McKim Cooke caught up with Sparks, who was by then whaling successfully in the Bay of Panama, and let the folks back home know how matters fared: “The reason he is so lucky is because the whales all know him, for it appears that as soon as they see that it’s Sparks that is after them they give right up.” Sparks never again returned to the Pacific, though he did make five more Atlantic voyages, aboard the Clara L. Sparks and the Sarah E. Lewis, according to the American Offshore Whaling Voyages database, by Judith N. Lund, Elizabeth A. Josephson, Randall R. Reeves and Tim D. Smith, in the National Maritime Digital Library. The Nason was pictured as a wreck at Wood End in The Lifesavers of Cape Cod of 1902.

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