Ship Visits

Almost as exciting as shore leaves were visits between two whalers at sea. When ships sighted each other they pulled up side by side to "speak" to each other. Captains shouted to each other through speaking horns, sharing the route and success of their respective voyages. Sometimes these conversations turned into a gam, or visit. One of the captains and the sailors who rowed his boat would go over to the other vessel. Meanwhile, the other ship’s first mate and his boat crew did the same. These were opportunities to trade small items, exchange reading material, swap gossip, and share news of home. If whales were sighted during this social event, sometimes the ships hunted together and shared the bounty equally. A gam could last as long as a week or more.

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New Bedford Whaling Museum Clifford W. Ashley