Whalers Gold


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In small ways—innovations in harpoon design, rigging, ironwork, sail fabric, windlasses, pumps, winches, and cranes—American whaling changed constantly. But its basic method scarcely changed at all. That method depended in large part on the good nature of the whale. While the harpooner and four other men rowed, their oars muffled at the fulcrums with matting, the captain or one of his mates steered and encouraged. If the harpoon held, and the whale swam, and the boat was not upset, the attached line ran out at life-threatening speed. Whalers knew that their prey could not stay under indefinitely.

When the whale resurfaced, fatigued from dragging its pursuers, oarsmen pulled and rowed the boat up to it, and the mate tried to kill it with a lance. Ross Browne wrote in The vivid italicized word seems to have been a term of art. After timing twelve hunts, Scoresby found that the average capture took just sixty-seven minutes. The strip was chopped into pieces, the pieces minced into leaves, and the leaves boiled in cauldrons known as try-pots to release their oil, which was poured into barrels and stowed below.

In the case of a sperm whale, the head was cut off and emptied separately. Worse, their wages sank as time went on, while whaling captains, whose salaries were more than triple those of captains in the merchant service, saw theirs rise. Whalers may not have realized how bad they had it, because no one on a whaleship was paid a set salary. The lottery-like system may have appealed to men who would have thought twice if offered a flat rate.

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Browne had a simpler explanation, though. Sailors bunked together at the front of a ship, in a wedge-shaped space below deck called the forecastle, whose entrance hatchway was the only source of ventilation. Docked in the Azores, Browne and his shipmates were able to trade for onions, potatoes, figs, and apples. Between whales, a ship had more hands than it needed, and one sailor calculated in his journal that in eleven hundred and seventy-three days his ship spotted only sixty-four whales.

To pass the time, whalers carved scrimshaw and sang ballads. According to Busch, more than five thousand of their journals and logbooks survive in archives. To fend off loneliness, some captains brought along their wives, who then had to contend with boredom themselves. Ordinary seamen, however, would look forward to sex in ports, with prostitutes or native women, a topic to which Dolin rather decorously gives no more than a page and a half.

ATOM REC OCT 1st Session 1 and 2 (6:30 and 7:30)

First, history. During the Civil War, the North bought up aging whaleships, loaded them with stone, and sank them in Charleston Harbor in an attempt to block it.


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The South, meanwhile, purchased warships from Britain and set about catching and burning Union whalers. In all, Dolin reckons, more than eighty whaleships perished in the Civil War. Then, in , pack ice descended on the northern coast of Alaska sooner than expected, pinning a fleet of whalers and cracking their hulls like so many eggshells. In this and a similar disaster five years later, forty-five more whaleships were lost. A new and far more destructive era of global whaling was about to begin—in the eighteen-sixties, a Norwegian named Svend Foyn devised a radically more efficient way to kill whales, by firing explosive-tipped harpoons from a cannon mounted on a steam-powered, iron-hulled schooner—but the American industry was too demoralized to participate.

Second, economics.

There She Blew

But for a long time beef tallow had been selling cheaper than spermaceti as an ingredient in candles, and lard oil had been underselling whale oil as a fuel for lamps. From the eighteen-forties on, more and more cities lit their streets with coal-derived gas, and a Canadian discovered how to extract from coal an oil called kerosene, which burned brighter and cleaner than whale oil.


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  • By the time crude petroleum was found underground in western Pennsylvania, in , the whaling industry was already in retreat. Petroleum doomed it. In a single day, an oil well pumped as many barrels as a whaleship might collect in a three-year voyage. As sales shrank, the owners of whaleships cut costs by offering smaller lays, and the rate of literacy and the level of experience of the whaling workforce dropped, dragging productivity down with it.

    2019 Alaska Gold vs Barrow Whalers - 2014 Hooping for Spring Tournament

    But the economists tell us that whales are innocent of having damaged the whaling industry by becoming scarce, and nineteenth-century whalers had to keep searching for new grounds because whales in much-hunted areas grew more canny. Americans never caught enough sperm whales to throw them out of equilibrium. They did harm the populations of grays and bowheads, it seems, and maybe of right whales, too, but too late to have contributed to the decline of American whaling. Whaling in the United States survived as a conscious antique, but only for a few decades. In , the newspaper of the whaling industry shut down for lack of readers.

    We are told that on top of playing hard they showed great sportsmanship. Way to go boys, great job! Finished but were they were all close games! Great Job Atom Sharks!

    Japan will resume commercial whaling and leave the IWC. Get the facts.

    The below photo is a group shot of both teams with their medals. Great job Whalers! The girls played so hard and we were so impressed with their work ethic and team spirit! These girls rock!

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