The Whiteness of the Whale by David Poyer is about a strange collection of people who join together on a large sailboat that will sail into the Antarctic Sea to take on the Japanese Whalers in protest to the practice of killing whales. Besides the crew of Captain and a couple of crew members the ‘passengers’ include a scientist, Dr Sara Pollard; an Orca trainer, Eddi; protesters Lars and Bodine; and finally the diva, the actress Doree and her maid, Georgita. They all live in a confined space, one that is in constant motion, and without any privacy or solace. Nerves go quickly as everyone has many jobs as cooks, not chefs, watches, crew members with the constant reminder that if you go overboard ‘helpless in sixty seconds, dead in five minutes.’
The details about the trip of this sailboat in the harsh Antarctic Sea are amazing. The fear factor is incredibly high. The beauty of the sea, of the whales, and what they are trying to do to save the whales from the new age whalers and the huge factory ships is inspiring. The cause of saving the whales takes a curious turn when a scientist from the killer ship jumps overboard and is rescued by the protesters. After an encounter with an Argentine corvette, the Black Anemone leaves a very sick first mate for better medical treatment and Georgita. Sara takes over the first mate’s quarters and having picked up fresh stores fro the corvette, the sailing craft heads off for more adventures. One very cool adventure is a brief icy swim with right whales.
One can’t help but begin to think of Ahab and his obsession. Though the obsession of one to kill a whale and the obsession of the others is to save the whales, I have to wonder about this obsession, common sense, and safety. Tragedy followed by danger doesn’t deter the obsession. In the end it is all irony, lies, and the reminder how dangerous man is to mankind.