September 15th, 2011

sailing ships stuck in the doldrums

I'm researching for a poem in which I'm hoping I can use the imagery of a ship stuck in the doldrums as an extended metaphor. I'd like to know how long a sailing ship might have been stuck; if there would have been any small movements or a complete standstill; have there been disasters where crews died from starvation/dehydration? Also, is it plausible for the ship to be a whaling ship? Wikipedia leads me to an article on the Intertropic Convergence Zone, which is way more science than I need, and googling "doldrums", "historical accounts of doldrums", and "ship stuck in doldrums" gets me either explanations of the origins of the term or other metaphorical uses of the term doldrums. Historical accounts by sailors would be the best resource, acceptable from any historical period where ships were entirely reliant on sails and winds. Of course I have poetic license to make up whatever I like, but it would mean more if I could have some basis in reality.

Help and thank you :)