Ride the Whale
ONCE THE HARPOON HAD BEEN SET, the whale took off—it dived, it swam, it contorted. It certainly didn’t give up. The Inuit hunters hung on tight to the rope and worked to tire the whale. They used tools to slow it down—bladders filled with water, for example—yet because of the whale’s size, speed, and intelligence, it was extremely difficult to land.
The ride could be dangerously long. The whale could pull the tiny boat and crew into unfamiliar waters, far from shore and far from the resources of the village. Hunters could become entangled in the rope or jettisoned onto floating ice. The worst outcome would be to endure the pain and fear of the ride, to lose tools and equipment or, more significantly, hunters—and still fail to land the whale. We can be certain that the whale hunters were very focused on their task.
Riding the whale marks a transition from scouting (the phases of knowing, seeking and harpooning) to hunting (the phases of riding, capturing, and sewing) in the Whale Hunters’ Process. Until now, you’ve been learning, about your capabilities, about your ocean, about the whales. And you’ve sent a harpooner out to learn more about a particular whale and to get that whale’s attention. When you’ve completed all of the scouting work and you’ve ...