Saturday, June 03, 2006

Cetacean Sightings

We've made really good progress over the last 24 hours and Kika is still steaming along at 6.5 knots. We are 'goose-winging' west now and the wind is directly behind us resulting in a motion not unlike the Atlantic crossing - rolling back and forth like a pendulum. It's quite wearing and even Kika protests when it's like this with her many squeaks and groans. Yesterday was a great day though: cloudless sky, moderate sea and a consistent wind. We found a tiny squid on the deck in the morning and a flying fish. We put the fishing line out at about 10.30 and caught another beautiful dorado (mahi-mahi) within the hour. They are extraordinary looking fish, and such a vibrant green it has to be seen to be believed. We had a delicious lunch of a fillet each with rice and homemade coleslaw. We are really eating well on this passage!

At about 3pm yesterday, Nick was having a snooze and I was pottering in the galley fixing a snack. I started up the companionway and caught sight of something big, black and shiny submerging just beyond Kika's stern. It was no more than 10 feet behind us and I was a little ruffled. You hear very mixed stories about whales and their interaction with boats and this one was interacting. I called Nick (we have a rule that if I need him urgently when he's asleep, I just say what I need him for without beating about the bush, so I just said 'whale!) and he climbed out to have a look. We counted 8 pilot whales though there were probably more, and some of them were mothers and calves. They were swimming all around the boat, almost like they were escorting us. A particularly large one swam just under the surface almost touching the starboard side. It was 15 feet at least.

We had a great time just watching their huge, graceful bodies and we were very lucky to see them up so close. They surfaced regularly but even below the surface we could see them really clearly due to the excellent light conditions. They stayed with us for about 20 minutes and strangely, their pod was joined by some enormous, acrobatic dolphins. We didn't know where to look. Each dolphin was over 2 metres long and they were racing through the water at lightening speed, crossing Kika's bow with inches to spare. It was a wonderful sight and thankfully Nick managed to catch it on video just incase we thought it was all a dream.

Gradually we watched the whales pull away from Kika one by one. The dolphins too did their disappearing act. It's amazing how desolate you feel after a short visit from them. You can never have enough dolphin in your life. It made us wonder what the they and the whales think of us. Do they see the boat as a living thing, perhaps a potential threat, or are they just nosey? It has been speculated that dolphins just enjoy the slipstream a large vessel makes. Whatever their reasons for spending time with us, we felt very privileged to have witnessed them.

Position @ 18:50 UTC: S02°36' W94°07.0'
Daily distance run: 150
Distance to go: 2416
Cumulative distance: 476
Engine hours:0
Wind: SE/S 10-15knots
Weather: moderate sea, clear skies, 1011 millibars

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