shoals & schools

Janet Echelman, Earthtime 1.78 Vienna – @ MQ Wien

October 13. “There she blows,” was sung out from the mast-head. 
“Where away?” demanded the captain.
“Three points off the lee bow, sir.”
“Raise up your wheel. Steady!” 
“Steady, sir.”
“Mast-head ahoy! Do you see that whale now?“
“Ay ay, sir! A shoal of Sperm Whales! There she blows! There she breaches!”
“Sing out! sing out every time!”
“Ay ay, sir! There she blows! there—there—thar she blows—bowes—bo-o-o-s!”
“How far off?”
“Two miles and a half.”
“Thunder and lightning! So near! Call all hands!” 
J. Ross Browne’s Etchings of a Whaling Cruise. 1846. 

Melville, Herman: Moby-Dick; or The Whale. 2nd Edition, hg. v. Hershel Parker u. Harrison Hayford. New York, London: Norton & Company 2002, S. 15 [»Extracts«]
(in der EA 1851, S. XX, wird statt »Cruise« noch »Cruize« gesetzt.)
Browne, Etchings, S. 114

October 13th.—“There she blows!” was sung out from the mast-head. 
“Where away?” demanded the captain.
“Three points off the lee bow, sir.”
“Raise up your wheel. Steady!” 
“Steady, sir.”
“Mast-head ahoy! Do you see that whale now?“
“Ay, ay, sir! A school of Sperm Whales! There she blows! There she breaches!”
“Sing out! Sing out every time!”
“Ay, ay, sir! There she blows! there—there—thar’ she blows—bowes—bo-o-o-s!”
“How far off!”
“Two miles and a half!”
“Thunder and lightning! so near! Call all hands! Clew up the fore-t’gallant-sail—there! belay! Hard down your wheel! Haul aback the main yard! Get your tubs in your boats. Bear a hand! Clear your falls! Stand by all to lower! All ready?“

Browne, J. [i.e. John] Ross: Etchings of a Whaling Cruise, with Notes of a Sojourn on the Island of Zanzibar. To Which Is Appended a Brief History of the Whale Fishery, its Past and Present Condition. Illustrated by Numerous Engravings on Steel and Wood. New York: Harper & Brothers 1846, S. 115

October 26th.—[…] A little incident occurred during the day which afforded us all much amusement. […] While we were standing by the braces, waiting for orders, we heard him singing out from the mast-head with all his might,
„Thar’ she breaches! Thar’ she breaches!“
„Where away?“ said the captain.
„A point off the weather bow, sir. Thar’ she breaches!“
„How far off?“
„Ten miles. Thar’ she breaches! Thar’ she breaches!“
„Don’t she blow at all?“
„No, sir; there’s no spout; nothing but breaches—very large breaches. Thar’ she breaches!“
„Luff up to the wind. Do you hear, at the wheel? Cooper, are those breaches in sight now?“ 
„Yes, sir; I see them all the time. She don’t stop breaching at all—large breaches! It must be a very large sperm whale. Thar’s she breaches! Thar’ she breaches!“
„What the deuse! don’t the breaches stop at all?“
„No, sir. Thar’ she breaches!  thar’—“
„Sing out every time. Get your boats ready, and call all hands.“
„Thar’—thar’—thar’ she breaches!“ shouted the cooper, from the mast-head. For upward of fifteen minutes he strained his lungs in this way, when he suddenly became silent.
„Where’s the whale now?“ said the captain.
„I don’t believe it’s a whale, sir,“ replied the cooper, in a tone of disappointment.
„What in the nation do you call it, then?“
„Why, I don’t know exactly. It looked very much like a whale at first.“
„How now? Don’t you know a whale when you see one? What is it?“
„Well, I don’t know, sir. It ain’t a whale, that’s certain.“
„You don’t know, you infernal sheephead! Steward, pass up my spyglass!“ and, taking a steady look from the main-top in the direction indicated by the cooper, he suddenly exclaimed, „Why, h—ll and d—n—n! that’s Leton’s Rock!

Browne, Etchings of a Whaling Cruise, S. 147–149

Desecrated as the body is, a vengeful ghost survives and hovers over it to scare. Espied by some timid man-of-war or blundering discovery-vessel from afar, when the distance obscuring the swarming fowls, nevertheless still shows the white mass floating in the sun, and the white spray heaving high against it; straightway the whale’s unharming corpse, with trembling fingers is set down in the log—shoals, rocks, and breakers hereabouts: beware! And for years afterwards, perhaps, ships shun the place; leaping over it as silly sheep leap over a vacuum, because their leader originally leaped there when a stick was held.

Melville, Moby-Dick, S. 248 [Chap. 69: »The Funeral«]

The old Portuguese cook, who was something of a wag, rallied him most unmercifully. For weeks after, when the hands would gather in the waist for a dance, old Slush, grinning from ear to ear, would gaze toward the horizon with eyes like saucers. This was a signal for some of the crew to sing out, „Halloo, Slush, what d’ye see ?“
„Large sperm whale, sare! Dar’ she breach! Ten miles off, sare! dar‘ she breach! She breach all de time, sare! Dar‘ she breach ! Big whale, saredat big whale! He, he, he! Yaw, yaw, yaw! Dar’ she breach! Cooper, you sabe big rock!“

Browne, Etchings of a Whaling Cruise, S. 149f.