Mudcat Café message #754008 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #48561   Message #754008
Posted By: greg stephens
24-Jul-02 - 06:15 PM
Thread Name: help: Moby Dick shanty thread?
Subject: RE: help: Moby Dick shanty thread?
In this thread, and the previous thread (called "Lyric req:Paddy Doyle", sorry no blue clickie):there was a discussion about whether whalers sang while rowing after whales, and whether this would scare the whales off or not. Dead Hore was damant that noise wouldnt scare whales like this, but everybody was arguing theoretically. Well, bingo, I suddenly found some evidence. Dead Horse is dead right. Singingis not a problem, and people do it. "In search of Moby Dick" by Tim Severin. Describing modern whaling, by anceient methods, in Lamalera, island of Lembata, Indonesia. First hedescribes the boats rowing while looking for awhale, while singing. The some wind arrives, and they hoist sail, still looking for whale. When they spot one, they lower sail and row: "I saw the assistant harpooner pass forward the long bamboo lance. From the rack of bamboo poles he had selected the stout, heavier pole that is kept for whale attack,and had fitted thebig whale harpoonhead The harpooner took the lance, raised it high and moved to the end of the projecting harpooner's ladder. He held the weapon with his left hand about five feet from the butt of the lance, his right hand close to the end. he brought the tip of the lance forwarddown in a slow arc until it pointed at the whale, and flexed his knees until he stood in a half-crouch. I could see the slight curve in the bamboo shaft as it drooped under the weight of the metal harpoon head. Behind the harpooner his assistant stood up, gesturing withhand signals to the streersman to keep him on course. The paddlers were howling and roaringand chanting the stroke. For a long time the scene held. Then the harpooner judged his distance and struck."

Pretty hard evidence, eh? Those guys knew what they were doing, and they weren't keeping quiet. Dead Horse was right.