whales and time changes and international dateline

tony zwig
Tue 3 Jul 2007 12:50




Whales and whales! Wow!  About 5pm our time yesterday, I was sitting on one of the stern quarter chairs contemplating my navel (yes my belly button, in the vernacular) and simultaneously looking out to sea, when, right in front of my gaze, a large dorsal fin rose from the water very slowly, hung above the surface as its owner swept forward and descended as it moved closer along side us.  I let out a yell. I knew it was not dolphin; the speed was much slower and now that I was looking at it, could see it was much larger.  At first, I thought shark, with a dark foreboding.  As the others gathered to look, we could see the size, about 40 feet, as our visitor seemed to laze at the surface to check us out before diving for a minute.  It was surely a whale.  It was then joined by others, including a smaller one we took to be a baby.  They played under the hull going back and forth, blowing air when they surfaced, and one even surfaced right in front of the bow. This was all very exciting but I was uneasy because  whales are known to be a common cause of sailboat sinkings.  The whales come to check out sailboats because they think they are a strange form of themselves; they (we) move at 9 knots, move quietly, and have a fat whale tummy shape underwater. It is trouble when the whale gets too curious or amorous.


As we have been moving west, daylight and sunset has been happening later and later, and the 6am watch has been complaining it has been missing its sunrises.  Yesterday, we moved the clock back one hour, to gmt-11.  This sort of puts us in synch with Tonga, which is gmt+13 because it is across the international dateline.  I other words, Tonga is 12 hours ahead of us.  It is now Tue am, just after Monday midnight for us; we expect to arrive in 48 hours.  One could say that would be Wednesday midnight, but in Tonga it will be Thursday midnight.

We are out of fresh food but have lots of cans and tetrapaks.  Yesterday we had 3 guitars playing on deck.  Still no bites on our fishing line this trip.  It has been warmer the past while because the wind is more northerly.  Get that!

We have been tacking downwind the past 6 hours to avoid a reef.  Again, there is no precise info on its location but, we hope we have figured it out correctly.  There are 4 in the immediate area we are trying to keep track of.  So far, so good.

That’s all for tonight.