On the Water

Whaler's Boarding Knife

The work of carving blubber from a whale carcass and hauling the long, narrow strips of flesh, called “blanket pieces,” aboard the ship onto the deck was called “boarding.” The boarding knife was an extremely sharp, double-edged sword blade at the end of a short wooden pole. It served a variety of purposes, from cutting a hole in the whale’s flesh for the blubber hook, to cutting the long strips of flesh into shorter sections for further processing.

These tools were kept extremely sharp to cut the whale’s flesh easily. With the decks and tools so slippery from the whale processing, using them was reserved for the ship’s officers.

ID Number:
Place Made:
Middletown, Connecticut
metal, cast steel, wood
60 1/4 in.; 153.035 cm; blade: 32 1/2 in.; 82.55 cm; handle: 27 3/4 in.; 70.485 cm
A.R. Crittenden

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