Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Whale of a Time

I thought this little article I prepared for the smallsailboats Yahoo! discussion group might be appropriate here.

It tells of an encounter with a pod of whales when I was attempting to sail to the Azores in the yacht ‘Aziz’.

When we were about 500 miles out, and west of the Bay of Biscay - it was after an early morning kip - I woke to examine the scene. To my horror, nestling alongside, almost within reach, there was a huge whale, about the same length as the boat! I gasped, as my heart missed a beat; then to my utter concern I saw another dark shape immediately in our path, but even more startling, I observed we were in the centre of a large pod of these leviathans.

My first reaction was to avert a collision, but before I could release the self-steering gear, the benign creature in our path gracefully glided into the ocean depths.

Around me these wonderful, gentle, sensitive sea creatures showed no sign of panic; unlike the crew of ‘Aziz’. It was then I realised, they had the situation under control - they knew more about me and my boat than I did of them. With one flick of their tail they could have smashed us into oblivion, but instead they showed their friendliness.

The ship’s windvane self-steering, with its ever vigilant eye, maintained our course as our ‘companions’ escorted us for an hour or so. Finally they cavorted and snorted around us with the purpose of conveying their best wishes, ‘farewell’, and ‘bon voyage’, before making their departure.

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