Monday, June 24, 2013

Having a whale of a time

Position: 39°23’N, 31°10’W – Flores, Azores

Happy Holidays! For seven days straight, the sun has shone in a clear, blue sky and the light wind has been just enough to keep us sailing. We have been sunbathing and sleeping, enjoying the welcome surprise and thanking the source - the Azores High, a high pressure system that brings calm winds and hot, dry weather to these islands all year round.    


To make life even better, the ocean erupted with life and we had regular sightings of skipjack tuna, loggerhead turtles, striped dolphins and Minke whales. The tuna skirted ahead of the boat for six hours, their purple and yellow backs sparkling in the sunlight, teasing the Skipper whose two fishing lines trailed limply out the back. The reddish-brownish loggerhead turtles were very cute, placidly paddling through the water and raising their heads just an inch to watch us pass by. Every day we were visited by dolphins who surfed the bow of the boat, squeaking and clicking to each other as they jumped and dived around us.

The whale sightings were a first and made us slightly anxious. In the open ocean, whales have been known to mistake a boat for another whale, occasionally capsizing or damaging them in their efforts to introduce themselves. The 10 metre Minkes gave us a fright when they surfaced just metres from the boat, measuring about the same size as Ashling. While we were excited to see them, we were wary of how up-close-and-personal we got. Our defence tactic is to turn on music to indicate that we are not another whale and to the Skipper’s delight, the First Mate’s Westlife album is in the lead at driving the whales away in the fastest time. He has even identified a specific track that works better than others (First Mate sighs!). 

The light winds disappeared completely as we neared land and we turned on the engine for the final 36 hours of our crossing. After a calm night under a full moon (well, 92% of one), we arrived at the Azorean island of Flores early on Sunday morning. It is the most westerly point in Europe and for sailors, a milestone that marks the crossing of the Atlantic. With its green hills and colourful flowers, it was a sight to behold after three weeks of open ocean. 


Arrival in Lajes, Flores

3 comments:

  1. Congrats guys!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Congrats ! Wonderful news, you've already reached the Azores ! Beautifully written blog First Mate and great pics.

    ReplyDelete