Monday, August 19, 2013


From the title you would hope this is a post about Madeline, but no such luck.  On occasion our lives get a bit too exciting, and Nicole and I refer to these times as "pooping myself" moments.  It has thankfully never gotten to the point of a literal expression, but let's face it, some things can just about scare the crap out of you.
I mentioned in an earlier post that we are both still a bit gun-shy about running into another rock, but there is another fear that surfaces on occasion (so to speak), and that is running into a whale.
There are a lot of whales in Alaska, and there are very few days we are traveling on the boat when we don't spot at least one whale.  Most of the time we see the spout, or blow, off in the distance, or a glimpse of a tail.  Sometimes they are closer and we get a better look, and on occasion we have to change course to avoid getting too close.
In 2009 we were leaving Point Baker through the narrow and rocky entrance channel when Nicole spotted a whale sleeping ahead of us, not off in the distance but mere feet in front of the boat.  We swerved, missed the whale and the rocks in the channel, but it was way too close.  In 2011 we were heading through Peril Strait on our way to Sitka and spotted a whale breaching off in the distance.  While trying to get a glimpse of it through the binoculars I happen to look up in time to see the back of another sleeping whale right in front of the boat.  Turned out to be a mother and calf, and again we were way too close before we veered off around them.
This year we have yet to see a sleeping whale, but that doesn't mean all our encounters have been boring.  Heading to the southern tip of Prince of Wales Island, we decided to cut through the Barrier Islands via Eureka Channel.  The route would save us some time and keep us out of the ocean swell for a bit longer, but it involves some time in a narrow, rocky channel.  I was down below just finishing my lunch when Nicole commented that there was a whale in front of us that looked to be on an intersecting path.  She was about to change course when the whale dove, and thinking it would be down for a while she continued on.  I was just coming up the companionway stairs when she used several choice swear words and then froze, at which time I jumped up the stairs and looked forward just in time to see the splash from the breaching whale.  I reached back to shift the boat out of gear, but it really didn't matter by that point.  A minute later the whale surfaced again behind the boat, probably just to make sure we got the point, and then went on it's way.  In hindsight, Nicole says it looked like a small whale, probably not much bigger than our forty foot long, fifteen ton boat.

Our new rule is that if the splash from a breaching whale gets the bow of the boat wet it means the whale is too close, way too close.

No comments:

Post a Comment