Of Whales, Worm Holes and other Encounters

Blue Sky's Voyage
George & Michael
Fri 12 Feb 2010 16:15
Hello Friends                "9:30.5N 94:15.7W"   
We continue to make good progress west along our chosen parallel and in general, the conditions have been very good.
a few little stories for you...
A you know, we're staying north to avoid the equatorial counter current and hopefully get a touch of north equatorial current in our favour. We didn't however expect to get the current we've enjoyed - as much as 3 knots in our favour - so that at times our ground speed has been over 10 knots for extended periods. This must be the secret route across - the Worm Hole to the Marquesas. As I write, we've covered 206 miles over the ground in the last 24 hours and that includes several hours yesterday afternoon, tootling along at only 3 or 4 knots through the water.
We have seen a surprising amount of shipping - not just big trans Pacific stuff going to and from Panama but a surprising number of small craft. On Wednesday evening, one small boat appeared to be attempting a rendezvous as from observation and our MARPA (*)appeared to be adjusting course to intercept. Not having announced themselves politely on the radio beforehand, we took this as a little improper and decided to give Blue Sky a little helping hand from the engine for an hour to leave them well behind. They seemed to resume course on a route from southern Colombia to Mexico and one wonders what cargo a small boat might be carrying in such a direction, well offshore... Probably best avoided we thought. We've seen several others since and we give them a wide berth.
Yesterday afternoon saw the winds get rather light and since we had a huge current taking us west, the winds needed to be fairly fresh from the north east to give us enough apparent wind to fill the sails. We were anticipating a slow and rolly night but the sea smoothed out and the winds picked up and a comfortable night was had.
This morning as Michael was on watch at 0800 he saw a large number of apparently excited dolphins off to starboard. Followed by sighting a couple more 200 metres off the port bow racing along at high speed ... and then a spout between them and us...
We'd run into a small pod of whales heading north and from what I could guess we were in the middle. I saw one break the surface maybe 70 metres off the port bow and then another closer underwater, showing up blueish silver in the morning sun. A call of "Gentlemen! On Deck Please, Lifejackets On." produced 3 eager crew, suitably kitted out in well under ten seconds. I saw a large patch of smooth water behind - from the flukes of another whale as it dived under us and the depth sounder showed it was 31 metres under us. Probably similar whales to the one I saw before - at least the size of Blue Sky though I've no idea what whale.
But generally the passage has been kind to us and we're presently making a good 7 knots west in bright sunshine.
Here's a shot of sunset on Wednesday just before we avoided the coke boat, sorry, fisherman. Note the very flat sea.
Best Wishes
George, Michael, Alex and Simon