Gone Whalin

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This rope-strapped thimble carved from whalebone would have had a light rope through the eye for rigging, perhaps on a whaleboat. The December 16 entry tells the story of two whales that were caught and processed. The figures inside the whale stamps show the barrels of oil taken from each whale. Straight edges or rulers, were used aboard whale ships as writing guides in the unlined pages of journals and logbooks. This outward-bound chantey addresses shipboard activities associated with leaving port, as well as the hardships of saying farewell to those left behind.

This short melody converts highlights from the life and career of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte into a drag chantey for short jobs, like hauling sheets or furling sails.


Gone Whalin', Humor Novel About a Man Who Keeps Waking Up Aboard an s Whaling Ship

By the midth century, American whaling ships were fishing for sperm whales mostly in the Pacific Ocean, and a common stop for supplies and fresh food was the port of Tumbez on the north coast of Peru. This song celebrates the chase and capture of a sperm whale; other versions often add anticipation of a port call. This song celebrates leaving the last outward port and heading home to New York with lots of pay. This tune mentions the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay and may derive from the Baltimore clipper era in the early 19th century. Its short lyrics also embrace a love story and a passage around Cape Horn on a whaling voyage.

This blend reflects the improvised nature of sea chanteys, which were localized by every crew. The refrain is a rendition of kanaka, the Old Hawaiian word for a Hawaiian person. Whalers respected Hawaiians for their seamanship and accuracy with the harpoon, and recruited them for their long whale hunts. In slightly over a minute, this chantey tells a story about the evils of drink and its effects on a sailor and his family. Whaling was a dangerous way to make a living.

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Crews spent years on the ocean, far from land and medical help. Drowning was an ever-present risk, and few sailors in the s could swim. A fall from the rigging, a slip on an oily deck, a tool or weapon in the hands of an angry shipmate, a stumble, a foot caught in a coil of rope—all could cause permanent injury or death. Scurvy, venereal disease, rickets, tetanus, and poor diets afflicted the crews of whalers and merchant ships alike. The most dangerous part of a dangerous job was working in a whaleboat. Gravely wounded, a whale was still strong enough to break a boat in half and flip crewmen into the water.

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This painting is a copy of what may be the first American whaling print, issued in It is derived from a sketch by whaler Cornelius Hulsart, who lost an arm on the whaling ship Superior. Starting in , American merchant ships larger than tons and with more than 10 crew members were required to have medicine chests.

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The chests came with instructions, and the captain or first mate usually administered the medicines. Surgical kits were not required on merchant vessels, but larger and better-equipped ships often carried them. They were used for everything from pulling teeth to amputating limbs. Like medicine chests, these kits were often sold with simple instructions on how to use them in emergencies.

Setting a fracture leg below was another procedure included in the guide. For centuries, the bodies of whales furnished dozens of valuable products—from whale oil to skirt hoops. As a result, whales were hunted nearly to extinction by the late s. This illustration mixes scenes of capturing and processing whales with examples of products made from whales—from food for Eskimos to umbrella ribs to candles and oil for lighthouse illumination.

Baleen is a stiff material on the upper jaws of some whales that enables them to filter small particles of food from the ocean. Whale hunts made for dramatic advertising, like the images on this invoice from a whale oil merchant in New Hampshire. This piece of advertising literature links a new corset to powerful improvements in beauty and comfort and universal admiration by men. Whale oil illuminated the homes and businesses of America from the s to the late s, in fixtures from barn lanterns to elegant blown-glass table lamps.

Kerosene and other petroleum products largely replaced whale oil for illumination by the end of the century. Some pieces weighed several hundred pounds. For many decades, perfume makers used it as a fixative to prolong scents. Why whales produce ambergris remains unknown. Sperm whale oil is light and has a low freezing point. It was used to lubricate fine machinery such as clocks, watches, and sewing machines until well into the s. Baleen is formed of keratin, like human hair and nails. It hangs in long, parallel sheets in the mouths of some whale species and filters food from seawater.

This large umbrella has a wooden shaft, heavy hinged baleen ribs made in short sections, and an ivory handle. Swifts, or yarn-winders, were an extra pair of hands for a knitter. They held skeins of yarn or thread while it was being wound onto spools or rewound into measured lengths. This large swift was fastened to the edge of a table with the clamp on the bottom.

The head of a sperm whale has two large chambers called the spermaceti organ.

The lower chamber is filled with oil and dense connective tissue. The upper section is filled with lighter, more valuable oil. A large whale could yield several hundred gallons. This sperm oil was chilled to extract a whitish, crystalline waxy solid known as spermaceti. Candles made from spermaceti burned with almost no odor or smoke.

Most women attained this shape by wearing tight-laced corsets stiffened by pieces of whalebone known as busks. Each of these busks has a cityscape etched into one side.


The other side of one has eight pictures, topped by a portrait of a beautiful young woman. The other has a plaintive love poem on the back. Gifts of Frederic A. Delano, Dr.

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Arthur M. Greenwood, and the Belcher Family. On the Water Exhibition Collection. Whaling American whaling flourished from the late s through the mids. Whale Chart, By , overfishing had decimated whale populations in the Atlantic Ocean. Cast Iron Whale. Cast-Iron Whale, late s View Object Record This one-sided sperm whale probably served as a shop sign or decoration. Oil Casks, New Bedford, Massachusetts, late s Barrels of whale oil made movement around the busy wharves at New Bedford almost impossible.

New England Whale Ship. New England Whale Ship, about View Object Record This model shows the typical outfit and gear for a deepwater whaling ship of the mids, when the industry was at its peak. Pacific Steam Whaleship Orca. Whaler's Cutting Spade. Whaler's Head Spade. Whaler's Blubber Fork. Whaler's Chopper. Chopper, mids View Object Record Like the mincing knife, the chopper was used to cut whale blubber into smaller pieces to speed the process of rendering it into oil. Whaler's Mincing Knife. Mincing Knife, about View Object Record Whaling crew used mincing knives to cut the blubber strips into thin slices down to, but not through, the whale skin.

Whaler's Boarding Knife. Whaler's Whalebone Scraper. Whalebone Scraper, s View Object Record Whalebone scrapers were used to scrape the flesh off the bones, which were then dried on deck and stowed below for later processing and eventual sale. Whaleship Skimmer. Whale Hoist Patent Model, View Object Record After whales died, they usually floated on the water, but sometimes the carcasses sank. Whale Hoist Patent Model. Whaler's Monkey Belt. Whaler's Carved Bailer Handle. Carved Bailer Handle, about View Object Record Whalemen used bailers to remove oil from large try pots into cooling tanks.

Whale Harpoons, or Temple Toggle Irons. Temple Toggle Iron. Whaler's Harpoon with Toggle Head. Harpoon with Toggle Head, View Object Record The first step in catching a whale was sticking harpoons into its back. Whaler's Fluke Lance.

Whaler's Shoulder or Darting Gun. Whaler's Allen's Gun Harpoon. We have to work like horses and live like pigs. The most filthy, indecent and distressed set of men I ever came across. A person who has not been aboard a Nantucket Whaleman cannot imagine how close and miserable they live.