Entering Transition Zone and Whales Alongside

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June 26
Kodiak to Straits of Juan de Fuca
Day 6

Noon position: 51.02.15N by 132.02.83W
Miles since last noon: 146 (Under power last hour of day)
Total miles of passage: 825
Avg. Miles per Day: 138
Course: 120t
Speed: A steady 7+ knots to 1 knot in the wrong direction
Wind: S 10 – 20 then SSE 5

Another solid day’s run spoiled by the wind!

We were tracking at around 7 knots of boat speed, close hauled and with a tuck in both sails, well into the night. But around2am things went sideways. I sat up with the vane for a couple hours as our breeze tapered, my hand on her control line. I recounted my favorite episodes of ALL MY CHILDREN to keep us both awake, and she told her stories too, but each one started with “I remember once when I had the wind in my face and…” She’s not much of a story teller.

By 4am the breeze had freshened just enough the vane felt confidently in control once again. I hit the sack. When I came on deck at 5:30, we were headed NE on a very light SSE’erly, and the vane saying repeatedly, “Gah! Gah!” I took over, but no matter what I did a full main and big genoa resulted in 2 knots NE or 1 knot (into the remaining swell) due S.

We’ve been motoring since 11am. In my book, motoring is as fun as riding the airport bus, but at least now I can do some cleaning without standing on my head.

We are about 70 miles SW of the southern tip of Queen Charlotte Islands, the lower of the two now being called Haida Gwai (my spelling may be incorrect), and have sailed into a stationary high pressure hole that likely won’t fill in for several days or until we’re even with Vancouver Island, some 100 miles SE. Then, if my GRIBs are correct, we should have brisk NW winds until Cape Flattery.

THE MORNING’S STORY, HOWEVER, IS WHALES. I’ve seen whale signs a few times on this passage, but never more than a column of white mist on the horizon. Around 10am today and as I tacked around trying to find a wind angle that made everyone happy, two large animals, I presume Humpbacks, came in to inspect this foriegner.

Larger than the boat, but not by much, they presented a remarkably slow version of Porpoises playing in the bow wave, which is, they sidled in cautiously over the course of three or four breaths (about 10 minutes), always parallel to the boat and matching its speed, sometimes on port, sometimes on starboard. One got to within 30 feet. He hung at the surface right alongside for a short time, his exhalation shockingly loud, and I could hear the water playing at his sides. When they sounded the next time, they did not reappear.

I wonder what they thought. Similar in its dark round sides, but with its large dorsal fin pointing strait down, the boat must have appeared deformed or dead. Likely they felt pity for such an ungainly beast.

As for myself. Both excitement to be that close to wildness way out here…and fear, fear of colliding with wildness and all that could ensue.

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One Comment on “Entering Transition Zone and Whales Alongside

  1. You’ve always been able to paint a picture, Rand; but the shots this voyage are really amazing and a perfect companion to your story. Want to know more when we sit together next time. Hugs! L

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