The whaleship Essex was based out of Nantucket Massachussetts. On an expedition in 1820, the Essex, commanded by Caption George Pollard Jr, sailed into the far reaches of the south Pacific where it was rammed by a large whale and sunk.
The 20 crewman drifted in the ocean for 90 days (3 or 4 stayed on Henderson Island) in 3 lifeboats, until rescued by other whale ships. Several of the crewmen died while adrift and the who managed to survived resorted to cannibalism to survive.
The story of the Essex was the inspiration for Herman Melville’s epic, “Moby Dick”, which became an American classic after the death of its author.