Here are some statistics that may be of interest, taken from the enlightening compendium The Yankee Whaler, by New Bedford native Clifford W. Ashley (author of The Ashley Book of Knots). This book seems to have been dropped by the publisher, Dover, but used copies can be found on Amazon. If you're interested in the history, practice, and nitty-gritty details of whaling, whaleships, and whalemen, it's a great resource.
Ashley took the following table from Charles Melville(!) Scammon. "It shows the size and distribution of the American fleet in the year 1839, when more ports were engaged in whaling than at any other time."
Wikipedia has articles to clarify the terms bark, brig, and schooner. (The distinction between "ship" and the others is unknown to me.) I sorted the table by tonnage, the total cargo carrying capacity of a city's fleet.
It's not surprising to see New Bedford, Nantucket, and Fair Haven at the head of the list. Ashley reports that by 1823 New Bedford's fleet equaled Nantucket's, both in numbers and tonnage. Sixteen years later, New Bedford's fleet was more than twice that of Nantucket in both measures.
Poughkeepsie and Hudson, lying 80 and 150 miles up-river from New York harbor, are a surprise. Of course, those are the cities of ownership, not necessarily the home port.
I was also surprised to see such major ports as New York, Portland, Portsmouth, and last-place Boston so far down the list; and to see New Jersey and Deleware there at all.
As of 1839, these states with "ocean access" were members of "the union," but are missing from this list: Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. (Some of these states may have dabbled in whaling before or after 1839—Ashley writes that in the years after the War of 1812, i.e. after February 1815, Philadelphia sent out two whaling voyages.) Was that due to lack of capital, lack of a distribution system for product, greater demand for product in New England, or inability to compete against established whaling centers for talented shipwrights, officers, and crew?
|City where owned||State||Ships and|
|Holmes' Hole (Vineyard Haven)||MA||3||1||1180|