Sunday, June 15, 2008

That's a Lot of Blubber!

Before leaving Essex yesterday morning, we went for a run. Saw lots of cool homes – New England cottages, colonials, mansions all mingled together. Came upon a historical site – the Hill Academy which was the first school in town, started in 1833. What is unusual is that it was coed and included both settlers and native people. The benefactor left an endowment to pay for the schooling of any native child who couldn’t afford it.

Here's were we are. Look at the notation in the upper right of the chart. We are at the end of Long Island Sound, almost. Norm has often said that the Chesapeake Bay is an awesome body of water for cruising. He now thinks that Long Island Sound is equally good--and deeper.

A short trek to Mystic CT yesterday and a taxi to the Mystic Seaport which is an outdoor maritime museum on 17 acres. It has over 100 buildings displaying everything about shipbuilding and the community in the 1700-1800s. There were also several old tall ships and the last remaining whaling ship of a fleet that once numbered 600. The whaling ship was fascinating. They’d go out for 3-5 years hunting whales and process the whale blubber into oil for burning in lamps which was stored in casks on the ship. Attn: “squeamish alert” for the following description… The 80-100 ft whale was brought along side the ship and they peeled the skin off with the underside of blubber attached. It was peeled in a single very long corkscrew piece (like peeling an apple in a corkscrew motion) with the whale carcass slowly rolling over in the water as it was peeled. The blubber was hauled over the deck of the ship and onto the deck below known as the blubber deck. (See Vicki pictured on the blubber deck – hey, watch it, I can hear you making remarks.) There it was cut into chunks and heated in this giant brick cauldron on the top deck to render the oil.

Saw a man-over-board drill on one of the tall sailing ships. If it took the real crew as long to launch the rescue ship as it did the museum staff, the poor victim was a gonner!

The anchor towering above mariner Norm was discovered off Nantucket. It’s from a 72-gun British warship from the Revolutionary War. In anchors, size matters!

Today, we’re headed to Block Island RI.