A Story of British Whaling in Antarctica

By a ship’s doctor, participant on a pelagic whaling expedition to South Georgia, etc. in 1962.

p. 56: The ship’s library was always well-stocked and was used by everybody. There were several thousand books in both languages [English and Norwegian]. Some had been presented by the shipowners, others were bought out of the crew’s welfare fund, and many were on loan from the Seafarers’ Education Services. Our librarian-cum-film projectionist was the deck storekeeper. He was a Jack-of-all trades and a magician who could produce from his store anything from a sewing-needle to a kedge-anchor. But he was an excellent seaman, an all-round whaleman of the younger school, as willing as he was capable.

p. 57: The greatest highlight of the voyage south was undoubtedly the stage show. It was the climax to our steaming in tropical waters and always took place south of the equator….

…the show was always a huge success. Enjoyment was shared by the actors and ‘actresses’ and by the large and noisy audience. I have seen far less glamour on the professional stage than we had here in our chorus of twelve young whalemen billed as ‘The South Latitude Girls.’ Their version of the Can-Can brought the entire house down. We also had a lugubrious comedian whose visage barely altered as he put across his songs and patter. His stories might well have been banned by any board of censors, but they always got by the ones we had on board.

p. 169, in chapter on wintering over on South Georgia: There was nothing to do in the evenings…. We had the radio, and we carried plenty of books and magazines, but these luxuries can be galling at times. We could sleep, of course, or we might muster up enough courage to poke a nose out into the freezing atmosphere and observe the heavens of the Southern Hemisphere.