« AnteriorContinuar »
EARS ago the whaling busi- So many whalers are fitting out
one of the most this year, particularly from New important and lucrative indus- Bedford which of late years has tries in New England, the seaports
become the one New England port of New Bedford. Nantucket and that supports that industry, that it Provincetown being the hailing would seem as though this prosports of most of the vessels engaged trated “American industry” were in that occupation. In the early about to awaken to something like settlement of Provincetown, on the its old-time vigor. Years of more tip end of Cape Cod, whaling was or less desultory whaling have given carried on from the shore by boats. the leviathans of the deep a chance Right whales then used to visit the to recuperate and that they were harbor, but it has now been many not guilty of race suicide during years since one was taken there.
their time of rešt is proved by the As the whales became scarce, ves
fact that whales are plentiful in all sels were fitted out and the indus- seas again. There are already try grew, and kept growing until twenty-three New Bedford vessels Provincetown alone boasted of a on the whaling grounds, all of them fleet of fifty-six vessels—barks, reported as doing well, and thirteen brigs and schooners, staunch sea- more are fitting out and will soon going craft, that sailed from her be ready to sail. harbor. In those days a captain For the
American of might pick his crew from among means, who has sporting blood in his own neighbors, and the interest his veins and longs to try a new and manifested in the success of a voy- novel form of hunting, there is a age far greater than in the great chance now to engage in one harum-scarum crews in after years of the oldest forms of big game scraped from the refuse of creation. hunting known, and in a field which
has not been fittingly exploited by header reaches over the bows and the amateur. To the man who has lifts the line out of the chocks. exhausted even the delight of the Swiftly he brings it around outside sixty-mile-an-hour automobile, there of the boat and passes it to the bow is an unlimited field. The chances oarsman, who has faced around on are if he once gets an opportunity his thwart so that he looks forward. to taste the unbridled and terrific He at once lays back on the line pleasure of a “Nantucket sleigh and holds fast with all his might. ride," he will view his auto-machine And immediately the boat, dragged
tame thing ever afterward. like a railroad car by that mighty The Nantucket sleigh ride is SO living locomotive, begins to run common an experience with whalers parallel with the side of the whale that they are prone to speak of it and just a few feet away from him, in disappointing, matter-of-fact lan- being prevented from running right guage. But, for all that, there isn't on top of him by the oblique strain an old whaler of them all whose of the line. nostrils will not dilate with zest Now, if the harpoon is well forwhen he thinks upon it, and the
ward in the whale, the boat hangs landsman who ever has had the rare in a precarious but sufficient arc of fortune to experience one is not safety, for the swinging tail hamlikely to find anything else in all mers the ocean behind it and the the rest of his life that will not seem wildly sweeping jaw unavailingly tame compared with it. Few lands- searches the sea in front. The boat
ever have the opportunity. header braces himself in the bows When a whale-boat lowers to fight until he is based firmly as the stema sixty-foot whale, the business is post, and begins to poise his long, too important to encumber the craft keen, razor-edged, killing lance, with uskilled passengers. And not waiting for
his opportunity to many landsmen would really care thrust it into the whale's life. to go, even if they could, when they Sometimes the opportunity comes behold, wallowing in the sea, the within a minute after hauling up on huge thing that is to be attacked. the big “fish.” Sometimes it does
The ride begins after the whale not come until the boat has been has been harpooned, and when the towed for many miles. It does not boat-header considers it time to require very much time to tow a draw up alongside and begin lanc- mile when a sixty-foot whale is ing. The first thing that is done is doing the towing. to haul in upon the harpoon line As long as the whale runs in a until the boat is brought as close to fairly straight course, the boat will the running whale as is consistent hang to him all right. He may with the extremely delicate margin champ and bite and hammer the that the whaler allows for safety ocean into acres of froth with head "Safety" to the whaler really means and flukes and tail and never shake to remain just about an inch or two
it off. His only chance for retaliabeyond the reach of the vast fluke tion is to run deep or to "mill.” with which the big beast is beating “Milling” is the act of turning sudthe sea. Having hauled as far up denly and so bringing the boat
. on the whale as possible, the boat- within reach of flukes or jaws.