Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/27

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VOYAGE TO GREENLAND.

boat. They were ingeniously coiled in a crate, four feet by one foot eight inches, termed the fore-beck, formed in the middle of the boat, and in another compartment, termed the after-beck, suited to the form of the boat at the stern. Each boat's crew displayed great emulation in preparing their vessels; and on finishing the tedious work, gave three cheers, in the exultation of their hopes. The foreganger of the harpoon being affixed to the line, the harpoon was placed in due form, the head lying upon the bollard (or upright post) let into the boat's bow, and the shaft resting upon a spline with loops in it, called a mik, let into the gunwale. Four lances to despatch a captured fish, a small axe to cut away the line, in case of its getting foul when running out; a wooden fid to splice with, a tail-knife to cut a hole through the tail of the fish, for the convenience of towing it, a small triangular flag, (termed a jack,) on a staff, to hoist in a boat fast to a fish, and six oars, fitted with grummets and tholes with muffles, constituted the equipment of each boat. These boats were then distributed, one over the stern, one over each quarter, one over each of the main chains, and two on the deck, ready to be hoisted out the moment they should be required. The beauty of the evening tempted me not to retire to rest, but to witness the ceremonies of a May-day morning, the celebration of which is an old established custom in Greenland whale-ships. In the evening a Snow-bunting (Emberiza nivalis, Linn.,) was seen flying round the ship, and at length settled