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Whaleboat Crew

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New Bedford Whaling Museum

The watches each had two whaleboat crews, made up of six men. The boat crews were "headed" (commanded) by a mate, who was also known as a "boatheader" and included a harpooner and four foremast hands. The harpooner pulled the forward oar in approaching a whale. After harpooning and "getting fast" to it, he went aft and steered the boat. The mate moved forward to wield the lance and kill the whale. This change kept the most experienced man at the position of greatest responsibility.

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