The narrator, Ishmael, travels to New Bedford, Massachusetts, to find a place on a whaling ship. He lodges at a seedy inn where he is forced to share a room with a strange old character, Queequeg, who was a harpooner. Despite his initial revulsion of Queequeg, Ishmael decides to join him in looking for work together. They reach Nantucket, the traditional center of whaling, where they find a berth on the Pequod, a bizarre vessel adorned with the skeletons and teeth of whales. The captain, Ahab, a mysterious figure, does not appear immediately. Later, they come to know that he is on board, recovering from losing a leg on his last voyage having escaped death narrowly following an encounter with a massive sperm whale.