Climb Aboard! | Lift the Cask | Setting Sail | Standing the Mast

boy lifting a cask

Lift the Cask

None of the crew get paid until the oil is sold, so lift the cask (barrel) off the ship and onto the dock!

How did the whalers get these huge casks off  the ship?

Whalers used simple machines like a block (or pulley) system to get the casks from the ship to the dock. Go ahead and try it!

Why is one side of the block system much easier to use than the other? How does the number of blocks affect the amount of effort you need to lift the cask?


How would you lift a cask of whale oil?

casks are round

casks are higher in the middle than at the ends

casks rock and roll

casks are easy to roll and easy to stand up but hard to lift

1 barrel = 31.5 gallons


A small cask of whale oil like this one holds 63 gallons (2 barrels) and would weigh over 500 pounds.

archival image of men rolling a cask


Want to learn more?

Visit the whaleship Lagoda in the Bourne Building!
Exhibition: Lagoda–The Largest Ship Model in Existence