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Setting up Shakes: June 22nd, 1811

June 22, 2011

The work of organising the cargo of blubber continued as the Resolution “made all haste” through ice and thick fog, to windward (SW). Scoresby had the ship’s cooper, and the carpenter employed in “setting up Shakes,” or rather constructing casks from packs of wooden planks, known as “shakes”. By the end of the day they had filled a total of 193 casks, which were now stacked–in places–four deep in the hold. Doing this at sea was unique to whalers, all other cargo vessels being loaded and unloaded in port, and it required careful planning if the ship was to be kept safe, and manageable.

Scoresby notes that the ship now had a draught of 13 feet and 10 inches at the bow, and 14 feet 8 inches at the stern. Early in the the voyage, on March 18th, while at anchor in Brassa Sound, Shetland, Scoresby adjusted the ballast in the hold by filling casks with seawater, and “brought the Ship down to 13ft 3 in aft and 12ft 10 in forward”. By June 22nd that ballast had been replaced, bit by bit, with whale blubber. Being able to maintain the ship’s balance while this took place, and while the ship made progress through challenging waters, was an important skill for the commander of a whale ship.

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