Whale of a day... Or close encounters.

Steve Powell
Tue 25 Nov 2008 16:30
23deg 27.8’N  18deg 46.1’W  1630 GMT

A couple of hours ago we found ourselves running parallel to a 45ft -50ft (15m+) sperm whale. He was 75ft off our starboard bow and tracked us for several minutes when he suddenly decided that he wanted to cross our path, but we had ‘Big Red’ up and we’re going slightly faster than him so he turned right at us and had a good look!!!!

Sperm Whale, 50ft long, tracks with us for several minutes before turning straight at us.......

Sperm Whale meets ‘Big Red’.........

And snorts his approval..

Before saying Good Bye to Charlie and passing across our transom missing our rudder by no more than a few meters.

We realised when he went behind us that there was at least another three whales on our port side. So we obviously inadvertently sailed right into the middle of a pod of whales.

Rather fun but a little disconcerting when he turned directly towards us, I really thought that he was going to hit us. The biggest worry was the rudder he could have taken it away without even noticing. But all’s well, and Claire spent the next hour regretting the money she’d lashed out on a whale spotting trip in New Zealand, that saw no whales.

Wind is still very fluky and we are being forced to stay near the African coast and keep going South. Our biggest worry here is boat people coming out of Serra Leon.  We were briefed at length by the organisers that this route south towards Cape Verdes before heading west held the greatest risk of coming across an overloaded open boat full of Africans trying to get too the Canaries, which then puts them in Europe, and all that means to them.  We have been advised in no uncertain terms, NOT to go to their aid. But to stand off and report their position to the Spanish Navy, so they can come and help them. `Apparently there has been 88 incidents in these waters so far this year. The thought of up to a hundred starving and very thirty refugees clambering onto the boat does leave me in a little dread. If we come across any we will take their advise and stand well off and wait until the Navy arrive. My fear is if they were to start jumping into the water to try and swim to us.... At what point do you decide not to rescue someone in the water? It goes against my nature and everything I’ve learnt about the sea and sailing.  Well I just hope I never have to ask myself that question....

Sorry to blather on but this really is the kind of stuff I worry about!! Chances are it will never happen.

Weather great today.... Lots of sun  and cool winds, slight seas. Couldn’t be better really.

Hughie on the helm and Josh getting that perfect noon sighting.

Happy days

Love to all from UHURU


25th November 2008

P.S. Just as I was about to hit the send button Charlie caught our first fish, a modest Dorado. (Mahi Mahi). Life’s good.

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