Whale Ho!

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      Whale Ho!
      Windchime, Mon Jun 21 2010, 11:59AM

      Whale Ho!

      This past weekend I was sailing from Crescent Beach to stay overnight at Cabbage Island Marine Park on the East side of Saturna Island.

      I was looking forward to this trip to really sea-trial our new double headsail cutter rig set-up. I was also very excited about trying our brand new Flex-Fold crab trap. With our tender in tow, I had plans to walk about Cabbage Island as the crab pot soaked, have a crab feast for dinner, get up early to catch the salmon bite at low tide off East Point’s Boiling Reef, and then a nice easy downwind spinnaker sail home.

      About half the way across the Straight, I decided to abort the trip due to an unpredicted strong wind building in the US. A gale in the Juan de Fuca East Entrance and Southwesterly Small Craft coming up the Haro Straight. Even though I had a recent isobar chart printout on board, and the Canadian WX-3 was forecasting winds of only 10-15 knots in the Southern Straight, I believed it was only a matter of time before the Haro wind started coming over the top of Saturna. I’ve been in that blow before and was not up for a repeat on this trip.

      I was very disappointed, but erroring on the side of caution I called ” hard-a-lee” and swung Windchime 180 degrees around from a close hauled port tack to a starboard broad reach and headed for home.

      Not very long after, my disappointment was replaced with excitement as I spotted a gray whale ahead of me. With no sails up or motor on, I floated with the single whale for a short time watching it spout and sound while feeding. My presence did not seem to bother it. A spectacular site! Just me, Windchime and the whale. The wind did start to pick-up a bit, so I broke off the encounter and headed for port.

      This is the third time I have seen gray whales this season, and I would not have experienced this wonderful encounter had I kept going to Saturna. So, disappointed as I was that I could make the trip as planned, seeing the whale made up for it.

      I don’t know what would have been in store for me had I kept going to Saturna. Who knows, maybe a 30 pound Salmon was waiting for me at East Point, or maybe the wind would have been blowing like snot and a miserable time was waiting for me.

      Sometimes you just never know what’s ahead of you … or behind you. But on this particular day, turning around turned out to be a good choice. Another wonderful whale encounter for me, and hopefully a positive human encounter for the whale.

      A safe and happy ending for all of us.
      Myself, Windchime, and the the incredible whale.

      Darry Major
      “Sail Safe and Leave Only Wake”

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