Fog and Whales

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Thu 19 Jul 2007 20:21

Noon Position:  43 06.0 N  065 48.9 W

Course: 050, Speed: 4 knots

Wind: Southeast 8 knots

Daily Run: 79 miles

Average speed: 3.3 knots


Today marks a week since we left Annapolis, in summary after a good start once we approached Nantucket Island to jump off for Nova Scotia we have been plagued by light winds.  The fresher winds forecast for yesterday and today have not materialized and we are still little more than ghosting in light airs.   Still we are making progress, and most of it under sail.


Nearly all of yesterday and all last night we have been imprisoned in a circle of fog, our world of sight extending little further than 200 yards, an aural “lookout” providing us with more information than our eyes.  Yesterday afternoon as we crept along at two knots we heard the deep heavy throb of powerful slow revving diesels some way off astern.  We listened anxiously as they grew louder with no appreciable bearing movement.  A fog horn sounded.  I made reply with Sylph’s breathe activated unit, certain that no one on board the vessel could hear our small plaintive note above their own engines.  As they grew closer I used the pressure can horn which emitted a few more decibels.  The throbbing grew louder, the bearing slowly moving left but it was clearly very close.  Then a shadow appeared barely discernible, wraithlike, ever so faintly, at the edge of our visibility, slowly circling like some ancient predator inspecting its prey.  This time it wasn’t hungry for it finally moved ahead of us and disappeared into the shrouding mist.  I think it was a Canadian Patrol Boat.


Then this morning as the damp night gloomed to grey dawn, Sylph still ghosting, I heard a long low pfffffff, the unmistakable sound of a whale blowing.  As I listened it became clear there were at least two of these huge mammals nearby.  I excitedly awaited a sighting but none came, the fog was very close in, maybe a hundred yards, we would virtually have had to run over one in order to see it.  They stayed close by us for quite a while, I am sure they sensed our presence, they would have been able to hear the noise of our wake bubbling astern, there is even a good chance they thought we were one of them and had closed us to exchange courtesies, such are the advantages of a quiet sailboat, and the patience to go slowly over the earth’s surface.  I am sure we will get to see some of these magnificent creatures before our voyage is over.


We are planning on making our first stop at Shelburne where at this rate we will arrive by tomorrow morning.  We will make a two night stop and then, weather permitting, will continue on our way, probably direct for Saint Johns in Newfoundland.  Paul is on a time line and the light winds mean we do not have time to dawdle if we hope to make it to Greenland this season.


Morale is good.