Boat Spade

Description
Boat spades served two purposes on a whaleboat. In the earlier days, they were used to cut the tendons of a whale’s fin or tail to help immobilize it. This was an extremely dangerous operation, for it required the crew of the whaleboat to steer right up against a wounded, unpredictable whale.
This practice was abandoned in the later days of whaling, at which point the boat spade was used to cut holes through the lips or heavy skin of a dead whale. This permitted ropes to be passed through, for towing the carcass to the mother ship for processing.
Object Name
spade
spade, blubber
date made
1800s
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
wood (overall material)
rope (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 85 3/4 in; x 217.805 cm
ID Number
TR*072827
catalog number
072827
accession number
1881.10616
subject
Work
Whaling
Industry & Manufacturing
Transportation
Fishing
event
Expansion and Reform
Civil War and Reconstruction
The Development of the Industrial United States
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
Exhibition
On the Water
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
J. H. Bartlett & Son
Publication title
On the Water online exhibition
Publication URL
http://americanhistory.si.edu/onthewater

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