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Sporting Animals: May 30-31st, 1811

May 30, 2011

By now the Resolution had reached Lat 78 N, 26, Long. 5, 40E, and Scoresby aniticpated the wind dropping. There was almost no ice, and he observed “many sporting animals suppose they were Bottlenoses.” Scoresby also made observations of the sky, noting that while some clouds travelled with the wind, others appeared to be going against it:

The upper region of light fleecy cloud seemed to move fast in the direction of the wind the lower regions of pieces of heavy Masses which divided from dense horizontal clouds as they arose above the Sea had a similar motion whilst a middle region of cloud plain to be seen and somewhat similar in appearance to that of the higher region … was either stationary or had a motion to Windward the latter appeared to be the case however from the nature of the motion of the others might be a deception[.]

Scoresby also took the opportunity to establish their latitude by the sun’s altitude below the Pole Star. Jackson notes:

… determining the latitude by the sun’s altitude at midnight is a reversal of the normal calculation based on the sun’s altitude at noon that is not mentioned in the standard textbooks of nautical navigation. It is, of course, a method only available to ships in high latitudes.

Finally they encountered some small whales, killed one within about two hours, and, after clearing some casks from the main hold, to make space for the blubber (a space known as a ‘flinch gut’), preceeded to ‘flinch’ the whale, alongside the ship, bringing the blubber on deck.

On Friday May 31st, with the Vigilant and Bernie nearby, another whale was killed, and as with the one killed the day before, it was flinched with the ship still under sail, rather than coming to a stop. Scoresby notes that despite having a whale attached to the side “we worked to Windward nearly as well as at other times”. At 9am they killed yet another whale, and again, continued underway as the whale was flinched, the men working on the carcass and the ship “made sail”. The prospects for the season were looking up: Scoresby notes that there were 13 ships nearby, “several of which have got fish this Morning”.

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