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Making Off: June 8-10th

June 8, 2011

For the next three days the crew of the Resolution worked at clearing away the blubber and storing it in casks, a process known as “making off”. On Saturday, they were also busy “gumming” which, Jackson explains in a footnote, involves the removal of the gum from the whalebone, “the first step in preparation of the whalebone for commercial uses”. Scoresby writes about the process in his Account of the Arctic Regions Vol 2, on pages 416 and 458.

There had been so many whales over the past week or so that the ship was in danger from the weight of blubber temporarily stowed in the main hold amidships. The work also involved emptying casks of water–the ship’s ballast–and coals to make way for the blubber:

At 9AM began to clear away the Blubber in mid ships of the main hold to make off being alarmed lest the Iron stantions supporting the Beams and Blubber on each side of the main Hatch way and twin decks from coming into mid ships should break the stress on them being very heavy and they bending very much altho’ we had supported them with pieces of wood between each stantion had not been long begun ere one of them actually broke.

This process of loading and adjusting the cargo mid-voyage was a characteristic of the whaling trade, and one in which the skill of the captain was significant. Scoresby was adept at balancing, and rebalancing the ship as the cargo changed, but even he had difficulty with the quantity of blubber in the way. On Sunday there was a heavy sea, but the work continued throughout Monday, when “At 1PM made sail tacked ship and steered by the wind SW or WSW on the edge of the Pack [ice] which labout ENE and WSW.


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