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Please record your experiences with all forms of wildlife whilst afloat or in your various cruising destinations.

Whales Messages in this topic - RSS

Daria Blackwell
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Posts: 716


1/10/2015
Daria Blackwell
Administrator
Posts: 716
We 've had some amazing experiences with whales and dolphins.

In Cape Cod Bay off the East Coast of the US, we were surrounded by Northern Right Whales. It started with one whale that looked like a rock where there should not have been any - when we got close enough we realized it was a whale spy hopping and birds were cleaning its callosities. Then there were two close by, and three farther away. Next things we were surrounded by scores of them. Suddenly we could hear their voices as we ghosted along in light air. The hull of our boat was magnifying the sound like a stethoscope. It was otherworldly. One surfaced right next to us so close we could smell the dinner she 'd had when she exhaled. Then they were gone.

We sailed along with a pod of pilot whales in the Canaries. Between the Azores and Ireland, on my birthday June 29, we saw loads of whales. Sperm whales and fin whales, mothers with calves, young and old. Fluking and swimming. Several came to see us close up, and one surfaced right next to us then dove under the bow like a dolphin. Aleria is 57 feet LOA. These fin whales were bigger. But we never felt threatened - maybe a little concerned about accidental maneuvers. When he looked me in the eye, I knew there was no problem. He just wanted to get acquainted, much like an old man in a pub.


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--
Daria Blackwell - Rear Commodore, PR Officer, Editor OCC Digital Comms & Port Officer, West of Ireland s/v Aleria http://www.coastalboating.net

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Pelagia
Posts: 19


1/10/2015
Pelagia
Posts: 19
Some years ago while crossing Biscay towards La Coruna a 50 to 60 ft Fin whale suraced approx 300 metres astern of our Najad 373. The whale then dived and resurfaced 200 metres astern, and dived again to resurface only 100 metres astern. Yes, you 've guessed the next dive was due to bring the whale directly surfacing beneath us. I steered in a hard circle and the whale dived and followed us round in a complete circle finishing up alongside us about 5 feet away (That 's how we knew it was about 60 ft long)! The whale then rolled on its side to take a better look at us and then we slowly parted continuing on our respective courses.
I must admit to finding the experience of having a whale, twice your boat length, directly alongside rather unnerving especially as I have subsequently heard that some whales take rather a fancy to black hulls like ours!
Whale is just visible diving directly astern for the third time...

[attachment=178]Finwhalesurfacingastern.jpg[/attachment]

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David Tyler
Posts: 187


1/9/2015
David Tyler
Posts: 187
Last summer in Alaska, a humpback surfaced with a great splash, very close alongside, about 10 metres away. Whether it was aware of my presence before it surfaced, I know not, but it didn 't hit me, so we both got over it and moved on.

A few times, I 've had to alter course to avoid a sleeping humpback whale. This would be the biggest danger, as if woken suddenly, they are likely to dive with a flurry and a lashing of flukes and flippers.

I 've had big sperm whales come to about 30 metres away to take a close look at me, just out of curiosity. I 've tried to sail closer to take a closer look at them, out of curiosity, but they won 't let me.

I had a pair of big sei whales swimming very close alongside for an hour, in the N Pacific. Again, just curiosity on both sides.

In general, I treat whales as very large but entirely benign animals. They go about their business, and I go about mine, and we treat each other with respect, but no fear or animosity.

--
David Tyler "Weaverbird" weaverbird22@gmail.com
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Daria Blackwell
Administrator
Posts: 716


1/7/2015
Daria Blackwell
Administrator
Posts: 716
Dear Daria,
Having read your YW article on whale encounters, I thought that you (or please pass on to whomever) may want to make note of these encounters as logged by me, each about 400NM east of the Azores heading towards N Spain, wind F3/4, sea slight, sunnyish day, easy sailing, boat speed around 5 knots.

1) June 2004, single handed, 33 ' Wauquiez Gladiateur, light blue antifouled hull:

When I first heard the exhalation of the whale, it was to leeward and sounded quite close. It was close, about forty metres away.
The whale was moving closer and was certainly longer than the boat. Its tail could be seen quite clearly and the bow wave from its head seemed to impart a worrying deliberation to get closer. I felt the boat move, not a lurch, but a gentle movement sideways from the displaced water as the whale moved ahead of the bow to appear on the starboard side almost below the tumblehome. Then we were pushed, not much, but there was contact. You can’t call “starboard” on a whale, so I switched on the engine and the echo-sounder.

Whatever the whale had thought we were, maybe a rival suitor, a predator on its young, we were a threat no more. Our vocal response had changed our sonar signature. The whale moved off.

2) July 2008, single handed, 40 ' Gib 'Sea 402, dark blue antifouled hull.

Suddenly I had company. More than I wanted.
The first whale to exhale and show its presence was no more than thirty metres away on the port side. The second whale was about twenty-five metres away and moving determindly towards us. The third whale was on the starboard side about twenty metres away. There were probably another seven or eight as closely grouped ahead and astern. Morgan Le Fay was in the middle. These were fin whales. Huge leviathans over fifteen metres long. Capable of damage. Capable of capsizing a yacht. Each individual animal was heavier than my yacht. These animals, probably peaceful, can be clumsy in their curiousity. But were they being defensive? Did they know that we were a yacht and meant no harm? Or were we perceived as a threat?
I switched on the engine and the echo-sounder and hoped that they would go away. They did.

My reaction to the first encounter was slight worry, my reaction to the second was of considerable concern.

Hope this helps.

Regards
Allan Collison
(OCC)
'Morgan Le Fay '

--
Daria Blackwell - Rear Commodore, PR Officer, Editor OCC Digital Comms & Port Officer, West of Ireland s/v Aleria http://www.coastalboating.net
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Daria Blackwell
Administrator
Posts: 716


1/7/2015
Daria Blackwell
Administrator
Posts: 716
One of the best things about being out there is having close encounters with cetaceans, pelagic birds and other wildlife. Sometimes the encounters can get a bit too personal. An article in Flying Fish called Chance Encounters Between Whales and Ships (2012/2 pp70-80) was subsequently published in Yachting World (Jan 2015 pp50-54) and prompted several people to contact me with their own reports of close encounters. I thought it might be useful to create a thread here to allow members to share their experiences with other members.

Please include any information that could be useful like the hull colour of your vessel, the species encountered if known, where it happened and under what circumstances, what you did, what the creatures did, etc.

--
Daria Blackwell - Rear Commodore, PR Officer, Editor OCC Digital Comms & Port Officer, West of Ireland s/v Aleria http://www.coastalboating.net
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