Hundreds of people shipped off in search of a great white whale this weekend, but from the comfort of inside the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Moby Dick Marathon and possibly also the largest crowd to date.

Over the course of 25 hours, the novel is read from front to back by dozens of volunteers as members of the crowd come and go.

Don Cuddy volunteered to read 20 years ago and has continued to return and read each year. He is one of only two people that have read every year, the other being Joanna Weeks.

Cuddy said he always enjoyed the classic Herman Melville novel and also felt the strong ties it holds with both Ireland and New Bedford.

"The first year when I heard about it I said 'I gotta do that,'" said Cuddy. "Even as a young man, I was aware that this was the great American novel and what an adventure story it was.

Each year, a special person is chosen to begin the marathon by reading the part of Ishmael. This year the part was read by Nathaniel Philbrick, author of the New York Times bestseller, In the Heart of the Sea.

Along with the reading, the weekend long event offered opportunities to explore the museum and immerse attendees into the area's rich whaling history.