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 water.
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
cruise of the Cachalot"