This account of the outboard
flensing of a whale is taken from:
A. J. "Whaling in the Frozen South" 1925 - An account written
by a journalist of the very first factory ship expedition to
Antarctica by the Sir James Clark Ross in the 1923/24
"But it is a dreadful job
- a bitterly cold, greasy, trying job, calling for an
iron constitution and superhuman qualities of endurance and
patience. Only tried and long experienced whalers can be flensers.
The bodies of the whales heave and bob and jump in the swell
so that it is very difficult for the inexperienced to even stand
on them, without trying to wield skilfully and with great speed
the long keen flensing knives. Big floes of old pack ice and
broken pieces of Barrier ice drift around and bump into boats
and whales. The icy water, so close, laps the bodies and coats
them with ice. The freezing wind bites through the flensers'
heavy clothes and chills them to the bone.
Their hands are bare. They
can not even wear fingerless mitts, for they must have sure
and steady hold of the greasy knives - one false sweep, one
wild cut, might spell destruction for themselves or their mates.
Frequently they must cease work for a moment, plunge the knife
into the hot flesh, bathe their hands in the warm blood to bring
life back to them, and hit their hands smartly on their shoulders.
Often they swing their arms across their bodies, Norwegian fashion,
to keep their circulation going.
Sawdust they find of great
use in enabling them to hold onto the blubbery wooden handles.
Despite all attempts to keep their circulation active frost
bites are of frequent occurrence. Fingers are frozen white many
times a day. When the flensers are down at their work their
clothes and faces are encased in ice so that they must thaw
themselves out when the come on deck."