The first people that started hunting whales where the Basque. They targeted the whales that came through the Bay of Biscay. When that population became overfished in the 17th century, they started hunting further to the north around Spitzbergen. The Dutch noticed this lucrative trade and quickly took over. They established the port of Smeerbergen and made large profits until c.1640, when the whales became scarce. At its height, the dutch whaling fleet comprised of 300 ships and 18,000 men.

The ships used by the Dutch were derived from a type called Flute. This type of ship was developed to accommodate the demands for a bigger cargo capacity. They had a flat keel and were broadly curved, giving them a cargo capacity of 150% compared to earlier ships. The downside to this design was that Flutes where rather poor sailing vessels. They were slow and fat and thus an easy prey for pirates. For this reason, Flutes seldom undertook long voyages without an accompanying warship.

The decks of a Flute were made as small as possible, because taxes were levied on their surface area. The mast stood rigidly upright instead of inclining rakishly aft and the sails were stained from the boiling of whale fat. Together with the broad curves this gave the Flute a characteristic appearance which was recognizable from a large distance.

Sergal’s Dutch Whaler kit is not a scaled down version of a specific ship. It is a model describing the general appearance of a whaling flute. With its 1:60 scale, this results in a model 700mm long and 670mm high. During the contruction phase I took pictures regularly. They can be seen on Facebook.