"At the first, faintest glimmering of dawn, his iron voice was heard from aft -- 'Man the mast-heads!' -- and all through the day, till after sunset and after twilight, the same voice every hour, at the striking of the helmsman's bell -- 'What d'ye see?---sharp! sharp!'"
Finally, three or four days after meeting the children-seeking Rachel, the suspicious, monomaniac old man seemed distrustful of his crew, fearing they would not sing out for Moby Dick. "I will have the first sight of the whale myself. Aye! Ahab must have the doubloon!" He rigged up a basket with which he could be hauled aloft by rope and pulley. Giving one end of the rope to Starbuck, he commanded to be hauled up.
Starbuck! Strange -- "The one man who had ever ventured to oppose him -- one of those, too, whose faithfulness on the lookout he seemed to doubt somewhat; it was strange that this was the very man he should select for his watchman; freely giving his whole life into such an otherwise distrusted person's hands." It is as though Ahab is daring Starbuck to do away with him.
The very first time that Ahab was in his perch aloft, almost as soon as he got there -- down out of the sky comes "one of those red-billed savage sea-hawks which so often fly incommodiously close round the manned mast-heads in these latitudes". The bird of ill-omen screamed and grabbed Ahab's hat and made off with it. As the bird disappeared in the distance, it dropped Ahab's hat from a vast height into the sea. Something is trying to send a message to Captain Ahab, but he's not about to be intimidated.