Somerscales was as a naval teacher at sea, but he gave this up after suffering from malaria. He found a job in Chile as a schoolmaster, and began to paint as an amateur, specialising in South American landscapes and sea pictures. When he was in his fifties he returned to Britain to live in Hull, where he painted most of his best pictures as souvenirs of Chile. In 'Off Valparaiso' and other such paintings he emphasised the jade green and blue of the Pacific Ocean. This full rigged iron ship was used for bringing minerals from Chile. It is shaking out top gallants and royal sails, while hoisting a goose-winged flying jib. The whaler is a pilot boat, with standing oarsmen, being greeted but refused.
Gallery label, September 2004