The lot of a whaler was a hard one and rowing the
boats to reach the whales one of the hardest parts. More frequently
than not the boat would reach where the whales were too late and have
to row again to where they surfaced. This was an example of a
situation where row boats were at an advantage however as they could
approach the whale quietly by careful dipping of the paddles in the
Also whales have their relatively
very small eyes on the sides of a very wide head and it is possible
to approach them either head-on or tail-on (depending on the species
of whale) and take them by surprise. The work wasn't over once the whale
was dispatched however as the next job was to row back to the ship with
the whale in tow, a journey that in itself could take many hours.
An engraving from
"The cruise of the Cachalot"