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A Loose Fall: 25th June, 1811

June 25, 2011

The definition of nautical terms is often difficult, and the term ‘loose fall’ is one with an uncertain meaning. Smyth’s Sailor’s Word Book suggests that it refers to losing a whale when there was a good chance of securing it. In his entry for 25th June, however, Scoresby says “made a loose fall and sent away 6 boats,” by which, as Jackson explains in a footnote, he meant “sent out all the boats”. Whatever the actual meaning, if indeed there was a universally accepted one, this Tuesday did not work out well. Both the Resolution and the Aimwell sent out all their boats after “several large fish in a very open patch of ice” and in doing so, scared the whales away: “Thus we spent several hours in active pursuit and got nothing”.

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