Atlantic Crossing 17:45.9N 53:26.8W Wind at last, an amazing whale experience and a flying visit
Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Sun 21 Dec 2014 13:57
Dear Family and Friends,
21st December 2014
After motoring in a more southerly direction we finally began to pick up more wind over night with enough to launch our downwinds sails and maintain a decent speed this morning. Not a moment too soon as we do not have enough clean fuel, ( we have plenty of dirty fuel), to motor all the way and it is lovely and peaceful without the engine.
We had not long settled the sails when we had the most amazing encounter with a whale, it was a privilege to behold such a wild mammal at such close quarters. I wonder how many people can relate the experience we have had today. The whale, we think a young adult humpback of about 20’ in length, with a white underbelly, breached not 10 m from the boat, we rushed for our cameras! Avidly watching and altering course to avoid being knock down by a breach from below, we held our breaths. It soon became clear that the whale was surfing with us and our avoidance was of no use at all as it would surface, blow and come right up to the back of the boat, pass to one side, sometimes 20’ away sometimes right next to the hull, dive under the hull to the other side and back again. Sometimes it would be next to, or just in front of the bow circling back and forth, breaching, blowing, circling to astern and doing the whole activity all over again. This it continued to do for over an hour, it was just the most incredible experience to watch, once we understood that it was playing with us. This will certainly be a memory to treasure and we did get some photos but it was very hard to know where to look and have the camera poised. Once we understood the pattern and looked for the white flashes which could be seen clearly once near the surface, it was a little easier. People have said whale sightings can be accompanied by a fishy smell and there was a sort of one in the air.
We seem to have had some fishy business over the last 24 hours, we have now lost 2 more fishing lures and all the line as we had a big fish late yesterday. That’s it for our fishing activities until we can get some more supplies! But not apparently the end of fish paying us a flying visit! At 2am this morning whilst Alan and I were on deck, we were slapped so to speak with a wet flying fish which landed in the cockpit. All a bit confusing at first as there is very little light, we just knew we had been hit by something! Although only about 10” long, it put up a spirited struggle as Alan wrestled to get hold of it and chuck it back. One lucky fish made it back to sea, had it landed on the foredeck we probably wouldn’t have known about it. It did leave the most pungent oily fish smell though, which I endured for the rest of my 3 hour watch, truly ugsome. (An old English word meaning horrible which I think deserves to be brought back, am leading the campaign!) A little later on Alan’s watch another flying fish came ‘flying’ through the cockpit and out the other side, this time without landing, just a slivery blur. We have seen more ‘flocks’ of flying fish, weaving and dipping amongst the waves for 10’s of metres before diving into the water with a splash.
With just sea, sky and sails to look at you can understand that these moments are special!
The other brighter news is that we have now travelled to the same half of the chart as Antigua, it just is better when its on the same page so to speak. We have broken through the 500 miles barrier as well with 474 miles to go as I write. With so may setbacks I am cautiously hoping for about 4 more days at sea.
All well on board, our best to you all,
Lynne, Alan and James