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The Nantucket Sleigh Ride - Whales and whaling pictures - 6

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As whales are so large, the basic job of killing the whale has always been something of a problem. The favoured way by most early (pre explosive harpoon) whalers was to harpoon the whale with a rope attached, let the rope out somewhat, then hold it tight to the whaling boat. The whale would then be swimming rapidly away from the boat but fastened to it via harpoon and rope. The aim was to tire the whale out, the boat being fastened to the whale meant it couldn't get away from the whalers.

This very harrowing and dangerous time while the whale sped away was called the "Nantucket Sleigh Ride"

An engraving from "The cruise of the Cachalot"

 

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