“Whales, Whaling and Whalecraft” by Paul Giambarba
Filed Under: Media & Tech, US | Posted: 03/20/2012 at 9:34PM
Comments | Region: New York | United States
This is a simple book full of illustrations by the author, intended either for children or tourists (or both; there is a genre of "child tourist literature"). Mr. Giambarba published it himself (I suspect), in 1967, under the Scrimshaw Press imprimatur. His drawings of people are a little anemic, but he’s fabulous at Victorian gadgetry. I read every word of the text, even lists of sails:
1. Flying jib
2. Outer jib
3. Inner jib
5. Fore topsail
6. Fore topgallant sail
[Those are the first six sails of a brig. There are six more!]
For some reason, I became obsessed with this definition:
Waif is a small flag attached to a sharp, pointed staff that was used to indicate a dead whale afloat in the water. It was also used to send signals from a whaleboat to a whaleship.
The idea that sailors would stick a flag in a dead whale, to claim it, as if it were a newly discovered continent, fascinates me — perhaps because it has the logic of a Bugs Bunny cartoon.