The Solo Voyage Diaries: A Whale of a show…
I awoke after 18 minutes and realized that something was wrong, the boat was lolling to windward and above me I could hear the sails slatting. On the side deck the sheet banged like an off-beat metronome as the head sail alternately pulled it tight and released it. I stretched and went up through the narrow companionway hatch and out into a gloomy South Atlantic dawn. About me the swell was small but sharp and it added to the percussion of the rigging with its own melody played upon the hull.
As the thought formed in my head and as if to underline the point, not twenty feet away to port a whale suddenly broke the surface of the water, half his body it seemed became airborne and then came crashing down in a white explosion that showered myself and the decks with spray. I was dumbstruck. He blew out a mighty gust of air and spray and rolled slightly onto his side to have a look at me. My worries over the halyard and lost time melted away as for a second or two I watched his head, back, pectoral fin and then tail ride along the surface of the water only just beyond the span of the deck spreaders; then in a graceful arc he melted back into the water and disappeared. I began running up and down the deck like a mad thing hoping he would reappear, looking this way and that but sadly not- it was a once only show. From the look of his jaw line and fin I would place him as a Right whale but I am not sure if they are in this area at this time of the year. Safe enough to say seemed to be almost the size of the boat and magnificent.
I finished my tack, slightly bemused. I had lost two hours, broken a major piece of hardware, sweated my bits off rehoisting the main and was once again worrying over the fact that we have no sponsorship to pay for any of these repairs in Cape Town and yet I felt
only uplifted and happy. I had also an unexpected but inspiring encounter at the very end of the work with a shy, elusive giant who came to look at me whilst I was just about to begin stressing over another broken bit of kit. Suddenly it didn’t seem so important. It’s all about state of mind out here. Little things can have you singing and dancing on the decks and yet it only takes a similarly small agent to put you under a cloud for an afternoon. Ok so my main masthead crane has snapped off, we have no sponsor and no cash to pay for any repairs in Cape Town and I still have six days to go to get in, but the main is back up, the boat is back on course doing 10 kts and I suspect it’s not the end of the world- to be honest the whale didn’t seem bothered at all…
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