Thursday, March 10, 2011

Whales and other tales

We've had many close encounters with whales over the years. A humpback surfaced a few boat lengths ahead of us off the west coast of Vancouver Island. A minke came up not 15 feet off our stern quarter in the Catalina Channel. We've had to dodge entire pods of whales here on the Mexican Riviera. But we've never hit one -- yet!

It does happen. A J-boat sank on the 2009 Baja Ha-ha after overtaking a pod of whales in high seas. Bernard on Simple Pleasures hit one near Careyes a few years ago. Last week, Darryl and Donna on Luffin' It became the latest victims. They were sailing into Tenacatita Bay when a whale came up under them unexpectedly. It appeared to have its tail trapped between the fin keel and the skeg-hung rudder. It shook the boat violently, and gave a series of mighty thumps. By the time it was over, the boat was extensively damaged and taking on water. With the help of fellow cruisers, they stabilized the situation, and were able to continue on to Banderas Bay, being towed the last 40 miles by friends on 40 Love.

The boat was hauled out the other day here in La Cruz, so I went over to see the damage and talk to Darryl and Donna. They were pretty shook up by the event, as would be expected. The boat has major damage, which is still being assessed. The most visible damage from the outside is the prop strut. Normally sticking straight down from the hull, it is now bent off to the side like a big banana.

Our sympathies go out to Darryl and Donna, who have had their cruising season cut short unexpectedly.

Our season in Mexico has also been cut short, but for an entirely different reason and not an unhappy one! Our friends Dennis and Carol on Evergreen have invited us to join them and their son Josh for the passage from Puerto Vallarta to French Polynesia! We have been looking forward to this for many years, and had even planned to take our own boat across this year, but decided the boat was not quite ready. But we are ready!

Evergreen is a Liberty 458, part of a family of boats including the Kelly-Peterson 46. It should be a comfortable ride for the 5 of us. Having this many onboard will make for a relaxed watch schedule and plenty of time to contemplate the vastness of the Pacific.

The planned departure date is March 18. I'm still grading papers, but Vicki is already helping Carol with boat jobs and provisioning. We are still trying to figure out how to update the blog from the boat. The passage from here to Hiva Oa in the Marquesas is over 2800 nautical miles and will take approximately 3 weeks. After touring the Marquesas, the boat will continue on to the Tuamotus and then on to Tahiti. We will fly back in late May or early June to put Southern Cross to bed for the hurricane season, and then return home for the summer.

1 comment:

Steve and Lulu said...

Very cool that you get the opportunity to do a puddle jump before subjecting your own boat to one.

I'm sure you already know this, but you can update your blog (sans photos) through e-mail and the HF radio. If you haven't done it already, go into the blogspot "dashboard" or whatever they call the control panel. There's a spot to set up a special e-mail address that your blogs are sent to. Next thing you know, they're posted as usual.

Have a great crossing. We'll be looking forward to dispatches from "out there".

-Steve & Lulu