Thursday, September 23, 2010

The good oil

Firstborn on the front page again, called in to work at the Herald because "there's too much news" - and so there is, with people in Avonside getting understandably stroppy about still having no water or sewage, nearly three weeks after the earthquake (over 700 aftershocks can't be helping their nerves). Then there's more snow in Otago and Southland affecting around a million animals, plus people; and wild weather all the way up both islands with flooding and flying roofs; and now more stranded whales in the Far North.
They're pilot whales, ironically, that have run aground, the same as a few weeks ago, when rescuers ended up trucking nine of them to a more sheltered beach to re-float them. The surf is even bigger this time, so they'll have to try the same thing with as many as they can of the 24 that survived the night. Big job. Four cheers for the volunteers roughing it there in the cold, the wet and the wind, fighting for the whales.
Now, don't tell them, but there's a lot of fascinating stuff about whaling in Nantucket, which was the centre of the whaling world for over 100 years from 1720 till petroleum was discovered and demand for whale oil dropped right away.  We had a lovely, if bumpy, time cycling round town over the cobbles - it's so pretty, but there are just enough rough edges for it to seem still real although, my goodness, it's an expensive place to live. The bus tour round the island was good value too, with lots of information, pretty views of light houses and cranberry bogs, and some local gossip (Bill Clinton was refused entry to the golf club - shock, horror).
The Whaling Museum was the highlight, though: full of interesting things, including Captain Bligh's tea box and a display telling the story of the Nantucket whaler the Essex, when in 1820 the hunter became the hunted, the ship rammed and sunk by a sperm whale. Sound familiar? Yes, it was the inspiration for Moby Dick. The crew's survivors were reduced to cannibalism before the last of them were rescued.

It's a ripping yarn, that I heard again last year, told as a (relatively) local story. Where? In the Galapagos Islands, on La Pinta, the motor yacht that was our home for a three night cruise. From which we watched whales. Oh yes, more connections: lovely!

2 comments:

the queen said...

What was the complaint with my boy Bill?

Pam said...

New money, my dear.

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