Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A whale of a sail

After more than 2 weeks living ashore, we are finally back on the boat for a few days. We've had a string of family visits with both Mark's and Vicki's relatives, and gotten a lot of work done on the boat. We've also gotten a lot of exercise via walking, swimming, bicycling, and kayaking. But we've only had a few day trips on the boat, and have missed our little home on the water. So we decided to go back to Catalina Island for a few days.
We headed out into a pretty thick fog, but it cleared about 4 miles out from shore, and the wind came up, so we raised sails and shut off the engine. Within minutes, Vicki says, "I think I hear a whale." I didn't hear it, and was about to tell her it was probably just a wave breaking. Just then it surfaced, a mere 50 feet from the boat! It was a small whale with an orca-like dorsal fin, and as it dove back down, we could clearly see the patch of white on its pectoral fin that identified it as a minke whale. We didn't get to see it again, so it must have sounded and changed direction. But we encountered 3 separate pods of dolphins within a few more miles. We were hard on the wind to make our course to Avalon, and blasted along at up to 7 knots. We stayed dry in the cockpit, but the entire front of the boat was soaked by the time we got into the lee of the island and dropped our sails.
Outside of the harbor, a cruise ship was picking up its passengers and making ready to sail for Ensenada. We picked up a mooring near the Casino and headed ashore to meet some friends for dinner. Mark and Mardy both taught school here on the island, and had some great stories to tell about their times at Toyon Bay.

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