Still going North with less fog and more whales

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Sat 10 Jul 2010 18:34
63:51.267N 053:15.898W Saturday afternoon

Andrea and I were just discussing how this particular passage has acquired a little bubble of its own. It's the first time that I've felt that just moving along is enough in itself. I think this is because we've adjusted to this as being normal. We sleep from 2000 until 0400 then do our watch until 0800. During our watch, we take it in turns to be in the cockpit listening to the Ipod and downstairs reading and warming up. Then Kali takes over at 0800 and we head back to bed with a cup of tea to finish off our sleep. Wake at about 1100 and it's time for lunch. Then planning and reading or whatever until our next watch at 1600 and we have dinner at about 1800. After that, it's soon 2000 and time for bed again and it all goes around.

Now that it's calm enough to eat, sleep and read, it's easy to just keep on going. I think we're due to arrive at our next port tomorrow morning but I'm not that anxious to get there, unlike on our previous passages. I'm not sure how I'd feel if we were getting tossed around, though.

The visibility has gradually improved as the day has worn on. By the time I handed over to Kali this morning, it was about half a mile. As I was telling her about my investigations into some air in the fuel filters, I looked up and there were two massive black backs breaking the surface in front of us. Pausing only to shout "Whales" down the companionway, I got out, put the transmission into neutral and headed for the deck. Jamie, who'd been off watch since 0200, shot up on deck right behind me. I think he must have been in the starting blocks ready to go.

Almost immediately, we were surrounded by Humpbacks. I think there were around a dozen near the boat and I suspect many more off in the fog. They were hunting in pairs or threes and didn't seem to be going very deep as they weren't doing many fluke-up deep dives. The water there is on a steep incline from 2km deep up to 200 meters so it's ideal upwelling area for them to feed. We hung around with one trio as they came up and down, near enough to the boat to be able to see their bodies and especially their bright white flippers under the water. One in particular really checked us out and spent a long time lounging around under the boat. Jamie exhausted the batteries in his and Kali's cameras and Andrea got some video.

Andrea and I went to bed after all that excitement and I was just getting out of the shower 3 hours later when the boat went into neutral again. Time to get dressed double-quick. This time, it was Pilot Whales. They're much smaller and more agile than Humpbacks but there were just loads of them. Around 40, I would say including some babies that were jumping onto their mum's backs and generally mucking about. They were inquisitive and came right up to the boat to look us over. Some of them did a spyhopping trick where they stick their head vertically up out of the water to get a good look. We could smell their fishy breath and see every detail of their skin as they swum around us.

Richard was amazed at it all and reckons that he's seen more wildlife today than in all his previous trips to Greenland put together. We're a long way - 30 miles - off the coast so that may explain it as this is really the edge of the deep ocean rather than the coastal shallows and it's a long way from the local population. In any case, it's all made for a special, magical day and the visibility has continued to improve so everyone is in very good spirits. Kali has even baked a cake so, as soon as Jamie goes to sleep, we can tuck into that!


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