Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher
Fort Fisher, NE Bastion. Frank Vizetelly (National Geographic)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Waddell Describes the Whalers-- Part 1: In and Out Among the Ice Floes

Waddell described the usual whaler of that period:  "The whaling vessels vary from 90 to 100 feet in length with great beam, consequently they can be turned around more easily than vessels of greater length; powerful in construction dull sailers, and sheathed for forty feet from the stern, which is generally shod with iron, they are calculated to resist contact with ice that floats in detached floes or pilot ice some sixteen feet in thickness and in abundance in the Bering Sea and northwards.

"They are equipped with boats much elevated at either end and strongly built.  On the sternpost are fitted collars for lines to pass over when attached to a whale.  These lines are made of white hemp from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches in circumference, varying from 100 to 250 fathoms (600 to 1,500 feet) in length and coiled in large tubs, (made to fit the boats expressly for this purpose) a precautionary measure to secure their easy flight and keep them from being entangles, which might cause the boat to capsize, so rapidly does the whale move when struck by a harpoon, the lance, and a two inch muszzle blunderbus, of short barrel, constructed of iron, and weighing about 40 pounds."

A Whaling We Go.   --Old B-Runner


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