On the Trans Canada highway between Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Taber, Alberta, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Calgary, Alberta on Wednesday.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

All Aboard the Pequod: Travelling from the Great Lakes to Java with the Moby Dick Crew

Seafaring has always captivated humankind as a means of travelling and exploring – and few literary works depict life at sea better than the renowned novel Moby Dick. As avid travellers ourselves, we decided it would be fun to board the novel’s whaling ship Pequod (in our imagination) and discover the most fascinating spots along its route.

“Call me Ishmael” is undoubtedly among the most recognizable and beloved opening phrases to any novel. Herman Melville’s iconic story of Captain Ahab leading his crew on a three-year trip in his obsession to find the legendary white whale Moby Dick was published in 1851 but remains widely read and very popular today. Captain Ahab has sworn to take revenge on the great whale for biting off his leg during a previous whaling trip and this allegoric journey is very suitably set at sea, inspired by the author’s own experience at seafaring.

The novel’s influence has even reached over to popular culture – for instance, did you know that the famous coffee chain Starbucks took its name from Moby Dick? One of the sailors on the Pequod crew is named Starbuck – and in the movie, he displays an insane love for coffee. Moby Dick also features as a popular theme on online slots and Captain Ahab, the story’s protagonist, has inspired the heavy metal band Ahab – to be fair, they love the sea so much that they describe their music as "Nautik Funeral Doom", so it would be only natural that they would choose a suitable name. The novel and its iconic characters have also featured on works like Star Trek, where fans will remember that Khan Noonien Singh kept reading Moby Dick during his exile and compared his quest to defeat his nemesis James T. Kirk to Ahab’s journey.

But beyond all that, the novel offers some remarkable story-telling and description of life at sea, as well as exciting locations along the whaling expedition. Here are our favorite places in Pequod’s journey:

1. Nantucket, Massachusetts

This location deserves a spot on the list not only based on its beauty but also on its significance for seafaring and literature in general. Herman Melville actually lived here, on this little island just 30 miles off the shore in Cape Cod – it even has its very own Whaling Museum. Mostly untouched by time, Nantucket is considered one of the most prominent examples of 18th and 19th century New England seaside towns, both in terms of architecture and culture as well as environmental conservation. The novel’s narrator, Ishmael, boards the Pequod here, so it is here that the story starts. If you ever find yourselves in the region, Nantucket is well worth a visit.

2. Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

The whaling crew’s journey takes them along many adventurous locations; when crossing the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, they encounter stormy weather and rough sea and Ishmael curses the Cape’s name and suggests “Cape Tormentoto” as a more suitable name. Bartolomeu Dias, a 15th-century Portuguese sea explorer, would agree: he named it Cape of Storms, but due to the Cape’s strategic location for the trading routes to India, it was renamed as a gesture of optimism. Nowadays, it is also part of the Table Mountain National Park and attracts a good number of tourists each year that come to see the famous chacma baboons. Fun fact: according to legend, the Cape of Good Hope is also the home of the doomed ghost ship The Flying Dutchman.

3. The Great Lakes of North America

Although technically the Pequod never sails here, Ishmael provides us with a striking description of these marvels of nature – and we would absolutely recommend a pilgrimage to them by anyone visiting either from the US or from Canada, as they are conveniently located on the USA-Canada border. The Great Lakes are also known as “inland seas” because they resemble the sea, demonstrating rolling waves and immense depth. They are Lakes Superior, Ontario (home to our very own Toronto), Michigan (home to US city Chicago), Huron, and Erie and they constitute the largest freshwater lake complex on the planet in terms of total area. They also contain more than 20% of Earth’s surface fresh water supplies and are amazing to see – so pick one and visit today!

4. Indonesia

Indonesia is a dream for any travelling enthusiast and we are lucky to visit its most prominent islands with Ishmael as a narrator: the Pequod sails across Sumatra, Java, Timor and Bali (that has been on our list for a while now!) on its quest for Moby Dick. Indonesia is ideally located between two Oceans (Indian and Pacific) and its over 17,000 islands span over two continents, (Southeast) Asia and Oceania. The country’s largest island, Java, is home to volcanoes and 4 UNESCO world heritage sites, including the Ujung Kulon National Park and the famous 8th-century Buddhist Borobudur Temple.

As much as we do love travelling and building our lifestyle around it, we must admit that for many people books are a great way of getting to know new places; and in that league, Moby Dick does an excellent job.

References & Sources:

Unesco: Borobudur Temple Compounds

Betway Casino: Online Slots - Moby Dick

Stack Exchange: Sci Fi - Wrath of Khan

American Sky: Top 10 Coastal Towns in New England


  1. Books are such a great way to "armchair travel." Two of my favorites are about Mexico: Stones for Ibarra, by Harriet Doerr, about a couple who move to Mexico to reopen a mine abandoned by his grandfather after the 1910 revolution, and The Guaymas Chronicles: La Mandadera by David Stuart.

    Another great "armchair travel" method is Google Streetview. Fun, and also useful, as you can look at streets and roads and plan routes.

    1. Agreed! Another great way to travel.

      We use Google street view a lot, just to have a look at the roads we might want to travel on, to make sure they are good for Sherman! :-)


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