whaling ship Logan of New Bedford
The Whaling Ship Logan of New Bedford

.....Logan was built in Dartmouth in 1826 for Gideon and Isaac Howland, principals in the firm I. Howland, Jr., & Co. The ship was 302 tons, was 87' 11" long, 26' 5 1/2" wide, 13' 2 3/4" deep, had 2 decks, 3 masts, a square stern, no galleries and a billethead.1

Luther J. Briggs, master: sailed 1 May 1838 (4 May issue of NB Mercury, sailed with another Howland ship William Hamilton, Capt. Swain, on which and for whom Luther had been 1st mate).

This is the only trip of John and Luther Briggs for which there is proof found so far that it circled the globe. Logan was also taken from below the Tropic of Capricorn nearly to the Artic Circle in the Pacific Ocean. The ship sailed through the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean through the summer of 1838 (an unidentified ship saw them on July 21st about the center of the So. Atlantic, but reported them heading for the Pacific), reaching the waters around New Zealand by mid September. They saw a handful of whales, but didn't catch one until November near the Kermadec Islands. They went on land to "refresh" for the first time on Tongatapu Island. They were in that area for several months, then headed back to the waters north of New Zealand. They took their second sperm whale on the way, and caught three more between New Zealand and New Caledonia. In the beginning of April 1839 they headed toward "Otahieta" (Tahiti). On the 18th they spotted Rimatara, their first Polynesian Island, turned a sharp northwest and were within sight of Tahiti on the 22nd. The ship Nathaniel Gosnold, a whaler of Falmouth, MA, reported Logan at "Otahieta" on the 21st. (NY Spectator, 26 Sep 1839) They continued north past Makatea Island and what is now Rangiroa, then known as Dean's Island. They returned to Tahiti and put down their anchor on the first of May, and remained their to the end of the month for rest and to replenish supplies. They left on the 29th, and were within sight of Tubuai in early June. They then headed east and were at Pitcairn Island on the 21st. They were on and off the island for several days.

On their way to the South American coast they wandered eastward, then on the 16th of July, turned north. Around the first of August they were in the Galapagos Islands, sighting Hood's (Espanola), then Charles Island (Santa Maria, Floreana), onward to the main island by Weather and Lee Bays and by Redonda Island. After about a week in the area, they sailed through open seas north, west and south of the Galapagos through August and September, catching a sperm whale in the process. In October they made a large sweep south, then over to the north coast of Chile to fish. They stayed there for about a week, then sailed along the coast of Peru, where they caught 3 sperm whales. They stayed on that course into January, then headed out to sea and caught another sperm whale.

At the end of February they headed east and anchored at Santa, Peru, on the 26th. They stayed there until March 10. Five days later they visited Paita, A report in The Boston Atlas (12 June 1840) also places them there on the 15th, the source not given, with 800 barrels of oil and headed for the Northwest Coast (but didn't get there until June). The New Bedford Mercury (28 Aug 1840) says they sailed from Paita on that day and acquired another 250 barrels of sperm oil shortly after. They logbook says they caught 2 sperm whales off Paita several days after leaving, then off the Gulf of Guayaquil, Ecuador, they took another four. They anchored at Tombes, Peru, for about 10 days in the beginning of April. Later in the month they were in among the Galapagos Islands again, and took 2 more sperm whales on May 1. They headed back out to sea mid May, where they took another sperm whale mid way out toward the Polynesian Islands. In June they made quickly north northwest toward Hawaii, and didn't settle until they got to a point about west of the coast of Oregon, but far out at sea. Here they encountered right whales, and for about two weeks in late June and early July they often chased but only took one whale. On July 8 they headed still further north. When they were almost in the Gulf of Alaska there is special mention in the logbook that they saw "a great many small birds." Going still north and settling around 55 degrees latitude, they encountered more right whales and continued to for about a month and a half. Again there was much chasing, but they were able to take 8 whales.

Through later August and all of September and October they headed back to the waters west of South America. In late September they were off Cabo San Lucas in Baja. On 7 November they anchored at Tombes and were there until the 15th. After cruising the area waters for several weeks, they anchored at Paita on the 29th and remained until the 13th of December. In January they were in the waters off Ecuador and Peru. They put a boat on shore at Isla Salango in Ecuador on the first of February. A quick trip west put them back in the Galapagos by the 6th and were in that area until mid March. They cruised for a month to the south, then anchored at Charles Island on the 18th of April and remained a week. They continued in the vicinity into May, and took 2 sperm whales. Cruising a little south of the islands from mid May into early June, they chased whales often and took 9 sperm whales. They headed east again and took another 3 on their way to Tombes, where they anchored on the 24th. Heading southwest on the 28th, they caught another sperm whale. Through July they made an arc out at sea and headed back to the coast, anchoring at Talcahuano, Chile, on 5 August and stayed until the 27th. While in Talcahuano, Luther agreed to carry a family as passengers home (William G.? Scotten, miller, customs record, Port of New Bedford "Copies of Lists of Passengers Arriving at Misc. Ports on the Atlantic...coasts, M575, roll 5). They rounded Cape Horn about the 20th of September, 1841, and headed north to the east side of the Falklands. Logan arrived in New Bedford on 13 December.(13 Dec 1841, NB Mercury) They brought in 2200 barrels of oil, 1300 of it sperm oil, and 7,000 lbs of bone. There is an abstract of the logbook for this trip in the Maury Collection, microfilm available through the NARA, from which most of this account was taken.


1. Ship Registers of New Bedford, Massachusetts, vol. I (Boston:1940), p. 187.
3. Maury (reel) 21; Dennis Wood abstracts, NBPL (microfilm) and Kendall (volumes), 1:287.

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all text and photographs © 1998-2008 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted

Research for crewlists conducted by Doug Sinclair at the National Archives and Record Administration, Northeast Region (Boston, MA). Given the work involved, a credit would be appreciated if this transcribed material is used elsewhere. Thank you!