Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/263

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where it is often difficult, and in many instances impossible, to take them. Such situations afford refuge to the fish when alarmed or wounded, and enable them to flee beyond the reach of their pursuers; finding sufficient openings to allow them to respire, they can drag thither after them any quantity of line, which the fishers are obliged generally to cut, and thus to abandon the whale, lest the boat and crew should be drawn under the ice. To prevent such calamity to the crew, and, at the same time, not to forego all chance of securing the fish, when the boat's complement of lines are all run out, and no further supply is at hand, it is sometimes a practice with the fishers, on being drawn to the edge of the ice, to abandon the boat in the hope that it may serve as a buoy to recover the materials, and also the fish[1]; in preference to cutting the line; this risk, often resorted to, is by fishers termed, "giving a whale the boat."

Captain Scoresby in speaking of pack fishing, states, that instances have occurred of fish having been entangled during forty or fifty hours, and having escaped after all; and of ships having lost the greatest part of their stock of lines, several of their boats, and even, though happily less commonly, some individuals of their crews.

Captain Taylor, who formerly commanded the Duncombe, and who sailed with me in the Baffin, assured me, that in one voyage while he was master of that ship, he had lost sixteen large fish which he had struck, with his lines and harpoons, from their effecting their escape under such ice. And I myself saw the Trafalgar strike a fish which we afterwards heard was lost from a similar cause; now these losses I have no doubt might be materially remedied, and

    each other, where the extent of the mass, though considerable, can be discerned.

  1. This plan was adopted by the Trafalgar, and we were afterwards so fortunate as to capture the fish, boat and lines.