Moby Dick Chapter 52 - 53
Chapter 52 - 53
The Albatross/The Gam
The Pequod passes by another ship, the Goney, or Albatross. The other ship is in dull repair, having been long away from home. Ahab asks if they've seen Moby-Dick, but when the other captain gets a horn to shout out a reply, he drops the horn into the ocean, which makes him impossible to hear. As the two ships pass, the small fish that were swimming around the Pequod swim over to the Goney; although this is a normal occurrence, Ahab sees it as a sign of desertion.
The obvious reason that Ahab didn't go over to board the Goney was that a storm was coming. Despite this, Ahab was not interested in speaking with any other whaling captain, unless he could find out more about Moby-Dick. This is unusual, because when whaling ships meet, it is generally a custom for the captains to meet on one boat, the two chief mates on the other, in order to have a polite conversation, and maybe exchange mail. This sort of meeting is called a "gam," and is a practice common only among whaling ships.