Beach the Whale
THE WHALE HAD STOPPED RESISTING, and the whale hunters had sewn its mouth shut. All that remained for the boat was to bring this 100,000-pound weight back to shore, at a place where their villagers could find them and assemble for the harvest.
They could not tow or tug the whale; it was far too large, heavy, and unwieldy. The boat, tackle, and crew weighed, all in, maybe 3,500 pounds. As in every other phase of the hunt, the whale hunters had to outthink, outmaneuver, and outsmart the whale, the elements, and other predators in the ocean. They learned to read the wind and the tides, working with the elements to reach the shoreline.
The scouts were back at work now, covering a wide expanse of shoreline north and south of the village, watching for the boat’s return. It would be most unusual for the boat to land at the same place it was launched; far more likely to beach the whale at another point. The people on the boat and the people who remained in the village all had to know and understand how the process would work to beach a whale.
When a scout spotted the boat returning with a whale in tow, he would run to the village and alert everyone. They would rapidly pack all of their supplies—tools, buckets, pots and pans, sleds. Everyone would head for the anticipated ...