One of my characters in 1802 is a New England whaler, something of a prodigal, separated from his family by an unhappy love affair. Researching his background has been fascinating, particularly the practice of calling in at the Azores outward bound to pick up a cheap crew of hard-working Portuguese in preference to American seamen. (It seems the philosophy behind Flags of Convenience have been around for a long time.)
Jedediah Pike began life as an example in a writing class I teach in the local adult education system. His first name changed to Zebulon, he was part of an alternate beginning to the infamous "It was a dark and stormy night..." that Snoopy found so addictive. He's grown a lot since then, gained his master's certificate and sailed a blockade-runner through the English Fleet four times. Captured by the British, he's been released to captain the same ship on a voyage to Jamaica, evading if he can, a fleet of privateers turned pirates.
Jed is not the main character, but I've grown to like him and he provides me with an outside perspective of my Half-pay Lieutenant and his Countess-the hero and heroine.
It's a great life.