On whaling ships in the 1800s, captain’s wives often accompanied their husbands on the years-long journeys around Cape Horn, and there was a special flag that was flown to indicate a woman was aboard the ship. When another whaling ship passed, if they too were flying this pennant, the ships would rendezvous and the ladies would get together for what was known as a ‘gam.’ A ‘gamming chair’ was lowered from one ship to the other to allow the women to be transferred to the other’s ship, and the fine china they brought on board would be used for their tea and dinners together.
This is the just one of the many fascinating tidbits we learned today at New Bedford’s Whaling Museum. It’s a three-story building that contains a half-scale replica of a whaling ship, several full size hanging whale skeletons, and thousands of artifacts like harpoons, bottles of whale oil, and whaling skiffs used in this, New England’s most lucrative business of the 1800s.
What I especially like about this museum is how wide the range of information that is given about current protections of whales, their breeding, habitats and physiology, and the many details, photos, and even movies, you can see about the lives of those men who spent years in crowded ships barely making a living. But the exhibits don’t only focus on the men who killed these beloved ocean mammals but on the animals themselves.
This excursion was our daily activity on this fantastic cruise about the M/V Grande Caribe, part of a fleet of small ships owned by Blount Small Ship Adventures. The company in Warren RI also makes its own ships, and we have met several couples who are on their 8th and 9th cruise with Blount because they had so much fun each time they cruised.
The ships are small–only 88 passengers, and about 17 crew members. There is no charge to use the wifi, no lotteries and scratch games they’re trying to sell you, and the daily excursions are all priced fairly. The food is hearty, delicious and varied. And most of all, every member of the staff we’ve met has been friendly, engaging and interested in helping out any way they can.
But even more enjoyable have been the people who choose to sail on a cruise like this. To a person they have been interesting, well-educated, open minded, non-complaining and best of all, a whole lot of fun to spend time with. Blount really does it right, and this being my first cruise, I am delighted to be here and glad we have a few more ports to visit before we say goodbye.