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Date: 08 Dec 2006 12:37:41
Title: Close Encounters of the Cetacean Kind

Hello Friends                                                "18:57.122N 45:15.685W"
 
Are we glad to be blogging with you this morning !
 
We had the most exciting incident yet last night. As we were enjoying Happy Hour, Ruud noticed a fin and blow in the water 20 metres away off the starboard quarter. We watched in interest and some concern for a quarter of an hour as the thing was sighted on either side, sometimes only a few metres away. Barnie saw it swimming along by the bow as it dived under the boat, almost touching the hull.
 
Sometimes it seemed like a dark brown shape and sometimes almost white. We agreed that it was a killer whale about 4 to 5 metres long and it followed us for an hour or so until light failed. Most of the time we sighted it 3 to 4 metres away on either side. Judging by the depth sounder, it was playing around under the boat as well.
 
Despite the camera being ready initially, we have no pics, the delay in digital photography was confounded by a brief surfacing. But soon, cameras were stowed and lifejackets donned as we considered the implications. Ben has just finished reading "Survive the Savage Seas" by Dougal Robertson - which follows a survival story after a yacht was s*nk following a killer whale attack.
 
We turned off the instruments - including the pinging echo sounder - and disabled the wind generator, that makes quite a noise. I decided against standing on the transom to haul in the towed generator !
 
I did call Falmouth CG for advice though sadly had the office number and got the answerphone (how annoying is that?). A further conversation with a very helpful Falmouth CG this morning has obtained the right number for 24 access and closed their incident record.
 
Fortunately the beastie got bored and went away so all we had for night-time entertainment was some very strong squalls (45 knots plus) and torrential rain. Needless to say, Barnie was on watch at the time of the most severe cloudburst, but we've put him out in the sun this morning and he's beginning to dry out.
 
All has now settled down again and we're bowling along toward Antigua at between 7 and 8 knots.
 
Finally, if you've noticed that we're going rather far south, we took a 7 day wind forecast and found that the great strong easterlies are due to die away early next week. The wind will fall and back so we are tending for a bit of south so that we have a better angle on the wind in the final approach to Antigua. We have had a fantastic strong E wind for most of the crossing though, must be beginners luck?
 
Best Wishes
 
George, Michael and the crew
 

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