Beche-de-mer, the product that brought the maritime industries to Torres Strait in the 1860s, was gathered in shallow water using small open sailing craft, usually referred to as whaleboats
. While these bore little resemblance to the sailing dinghies that were common in Torres Strait by World War I, they were probably the boats in which Torres Strait Islanders first learned to manage the European gaff rig.
Nichols (1983:94) cites a report that the ship Ocean of New Haven spent the season of 1860-61 anchored inside San Diego Bay functioning as a floating land station, with whaleboats
going outside the harbor to catch whales and then towing the whale carcasses to the ship for processing.
At the beach, two whaleboats
of men of the 21st under Dyess and Donalson went ashore in the morning and systematically cleaned out the Japanese on the beach after having blasted the caves with 37 mm cannon and machine guns.
The program comprised two yacht races, one race for whaleboats
, another for gigs and a rowing race for watermen's skiffs.
Her skipper, Capt John Patterson, and 50 men camped on the ice for four days before taking to the whaleboats
Tons of supplies along with two whaleboats
were thrown overboard.
After the sinking of their ship, Captain Pollard and his crew provisioned the three remaining whaleboats
with salvaged food and navigational instruments and set off for the nearest land.
For three days and nights she rowed back and forth with a fleet of whaleboats
tacking against currents that reached seven knots on the flood tide and nine on the ebb, dropping buoys and marker flags on shoals.
40 or so schoolchildren, armed with notebooks were there at the crack of dawn to see 12 or so whaleboats
leaving from Wada, to the East of the archipelago.
The Indian applied his expert knowledge of whaling diving patterns to spot the beast resurfacing three miles "to windward and thought she was dead." Mary Ann's first mate prepared the whaleboats
. The crew went on to kill the wounded whale and to process seventy-five barrels of oil.
The hunt began and, as two of the three whaleboats
chased their prey, First Mate Owen Chase spotted a large male sperm whale off the Essex's port bow.