As Ishmael goes on this journey aboard the Pequod he encounters many different characters and three of them return a lot during his story; Stubb, Flask and Starbuck. All three of them equal in their experience with whaling and leadership skills but very different in personality and how they act toward everyone else on the boat. As for who a person should boat with, the best mate to have is Starbuck.
Starbuck is the earnest and very religious first mate of the Pequod. He’s a Nantucket Quaker and is very skilled on the ocean. He’s very cautious and quiet when giving orders. His cautiousness makes his boat very safe when whaling. He doesn’t make stupid decisions very often and no one gets hurt. He has a tremendous amount of courage in him, which makes his boat not only safe, but usually successful. “Starbuck was no crusader after perils; in him courage was not a sentiment; but a thing simply useful to him.” Though he hunts whales for a living, he has a respect for them. He is not going to risk getting himself killed over a whale that fights back too much. He only let met on who boat who feared whales because, “not only that the most reliable and useful courage was that which arises from the fair estimation of the encountered peril, but that an utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous comrade than a coward.” His only flaw is that he is too soft spoken when it comes to Ahab and so the ship continues its hunt for Moby Dick and be in danger.
Stubb is The Pequod’s sarcastic and carefree second mate. He is usually remembered by his pipe because he is always smoking it. He seems to laugh in the face of fear. He even says that if the Devil ever comes after him he’ll, “give him such a pair of black eyes that he wouldn’t dare to show his face in the admiral’s cabin again for a long while…” He’s very laid back, so laid back that even when actually hunting a whale he smokes his pipe. He just laughs in the face of difficult tasks. Though this may seem like courage, it’s a very careless and unsafe way to go about things. “He presided over his whaleboat as if the most deadly encounter was but a dinner and his crew all invited guests…” When the boat is in danger he would just laugh at it and continue to smoke his pipe. This would not be a safe boat to be in. All of his mates would be in danger because of how careless he is.
Flask is the short and aggressive third mate of the Pequod. Flask is a little too enthusiastic when it comes to attacking whales. He “seemed to think that the great Leviathans had personally and hereditarily affronted him…” He jumps at the chance and makes quick decisions. “This ignorant, unconscious fearlessness of his made him a little waggish in the matter of whales…” The opposite of how Starbuck does it. No caution at all, just goes without a plan. This is clearly a bad choice for a boat mate because if Flask isn’t cautious and just has a bloodlust for killing whales, then that can easily kill all of his shipmates.
Among the three of these men, it is clear that the best shipmate to have is Starbuck. He has compassion and a respect for the whales. This is simply a job and not some sort of vacation or trip for vengeance. He has a clear head on his shoulders and his boat would be the safest one to go on a whaling trip.