Saturday, January 24, 2009

Close contact with the Gigantic kind

WARNING! If you are easily offended with profanities be forewarned that I am a bad, bad person for saying and writing such words. Do not attempt this at home, we are trained professionals. Read at your own risk!

Sailing along with the wind at our backs, David and I were discussing the population of whales now compared to a hundred years ago or pre-whaling days. I was bummed that we hadn't seen any whales during our crossing so far. Just as we finished that conversation we spotted a few humpbacks fifty yards off our starboard bow. I like it when that kind of stuff happens.
The following day we were nearing Isla Isabela and saw a pod of 12-16 Humpbacks, presumably the same pod that we had seen our last time we visited Isabela. The whales were traveling fast perhaps on a mission for food, but this particular pod usually seems to be in a hurry. Maybe too much coffee. David suggested we dropped the jib so we could maneuver easier if we neared the whales. We dropped the jib and began to gather it onto the foredeck when the whales were right beside us. I am not exagerating when I say RIGHT BESIDE US. In fact they were so beside us that one had to go under us to avoid collision. My legs turned to rubber and my fingers clumsily fumbled with the sail tie as I blurted out, "Jesus-fucking-christ! Babe turn the boat!" I looked down into the water and saw a flipper and made out every single knob on the whales flipper as it proceeded to swim ahead of us. There were at least six gigantic humpbacks that were within spitting distance...and I can't spit far, though I wouldn't want to spit on them anyhow. Whatever. I can't begin to explain the horror and euphoria of having those huge beasts in such a close proximity. David kept his cool and I almost peed my pants. I was sure that we were going to be hit by a careless fluke or bulky body that didn't see us until it was too late, we held on tight. The whales promptly made their way away as quickly as they showed up. The upside of sailing silently and not motoring is that the whales dont seem to mind the closeness. The downside of sailing silently along is that if the whales aren't paying attention (its not like they have many enemies from above or need to look before they surface) a little bump on the rudder or keel or anywhere else on the boat can mean real trouble for us on the fragile boat.

The outside temperature is 84 as is inside the boat. The water is now 76. We look at all the birds flying around, the fish in the water and the humpbacks that are on patrol. The pod of whales returned within our sights and keep rounding the island. The fish must be plentiful to support so many birds and whales. The island is not as green as it was a month ago, but I take that to be a good sign that it has been hot around these parts. David is attempting to work with the auto pilot(s). Of the two auto pilots we have neither wants to steer the damn boat on the correct course. The tropic birds are out chattering, it must be 3:30 in the afternoon. We could set the time by those dependable feathered friends. The chef is going to make a pizza for tonights dining experience.


Paul Lauher said...

Wow! What a great description... I have to say that (as usual) I wish I was with you guys!! I peed myself seeing the giants from a great distance...

AH said...

I'll second that wow --- a little peeing going on here too!