Moby Dick Chapter 61 - 63
Chapter 61 - 63
Stubb Kills a Whale/The Dart/The Crotch
The next day is a warm one, and the crew falls into a vague, dreamy stupor. This stupor is broken, however, when a sperm whale is spotted. The boats are lowered, and the whale is followed. It sounds, and when it comes back up, it is nearest to Stubb's boat, who immediately gives chase. Tashtego gives out a cry, which is echoed by Daggoo and Queequeg. He hits the whale with a harpoon, and the whale line snaps taught- the men of Stubb's boat start pulling in the line, to get closer to the whale. Stubb throws dart after dart into the whale, and blood pours forth from the creature. He stabs a lance once last time, thrusting it in and holding it there, until the whale dies.
The harpooneer not only must be ready to throw the harpoon at a moment's notice; he also must keep rowing with everyone else, and be yelling encouragement to everyone else. After he has hit the whale, he and the boat-header have to change places quickly, so the harpooneer can be in the correct spot in the back of the boat.
The crotch is a notched stick standing up in the bow of the boat, where a harpooneer can rest his two harpoons. Each harpoon is attached to the line, and it is best to try and get both into the whale. This is very difficult to do, and it is important to remember to throw out the second harpoon the second the first one is gone. Otherwise, it will fly around the boat and could impale someone. Once the second harpoon is in the water, it can also be dangerous, cutting through other lines; this danger is multiplied when four boats are all in the water at the same time.