The þing - Blue Whale

The Inspiration - The Story

The sad account of a Victorian whaling ship

This ship's log tells the tragic tale of the 'Diana', a whaling ship from Hull. The Diana headed for the Arctic in May 1866. At first the crew did well and they caught a small number of whales, but on the journey back the weather began to get worsedianas log 2_med.jpg and the ship was locked in a sea of frozen ice. It was trapped for over six months. Food was rationed, and fuel was in short supply; the sailors were driven to use anything they could get their hands on for food, even the wood from the ship's masts and seal clubs.

By the time the ice had thawed and the Diana had finally landed in the Shetland Isles, 13 men were dead including Captain Gravill, the captain of the ship. This log was written by the ship’s surgeon, Dr Charles Edward Smith, after the death of Captain Gravill.

230px-World-tour-sheltand-09_163.jpgIn mid-March she was finally released from the ice. Leaking badly, a race against death started across the Atlantic. On 2nd April 1867, the Diana limped into Ronas Voe with the Captain and eight of the crew dead on deck, and four others near their last breath. Many of the dead crewmen were from Shetland.
The Diana took on a new crew in Shetland, and continued to Hull. On April 26th she reached her homeport. She was repaired and returned to whaling, but in 1869 she sank.
In 1890, a memorial drinking fountain was erected on the Lerwick harbourEsplanade bearing the words: "In Memory of the Providential Return of the S.Whaler Diana of Hull". The memorial was later moved a short distance during Esplanade renovations and no longer provides water.

Click on the fountain photo for a link to Hull's whaling industry. Many Shetland men served on these boats.

Click to hear this whaling tune