A Visit From Wilson the Whale

As of 1030 EST Sojourner is in position 25 29 N, 075 20 W, making 5 knots under sail on a course of 305 T.

Wilson the whale swam by to say hello yesterday.

'Whale!' shouted Tom near the end of his afternoon watch yesterday. Kevin, Dad and I scrambled on deck to get a look. We were sailing smoothly along under the asymmetrical spinnaker which we had set earlier in the day as the wind continued to veer to the SSE and get lighter.

'I just saw him spout, about 30 yards to starboard,' Tom told us when we came on deck. Sure enough a few minutes later he surfaced again, this time even nearer the boat. We could see his head and mouth quite clearly - a big, wide, baleen mouth, a real whale (though we are not certain what kind. Minke maybe, or sperm whale?).

According to my dad, it was just how Walter the Whale acted when he and Mia encountered him coming across the Atlantic last January, and looked to be a similar type. Wilson, as I've dubbed our whale friend, stayed with us for almost an hour. He would swim right alongside the boat (we measured him at about 2/3 the length of Sojourner, so maybe 20, 25 feet or so. His tail was at least six feet across). Then he'd dive under the boat and come out on the other side, spouting right off the bow, then diving and circling back again to our stern. He approached a few times from dead astern, laying on his side and making one powerful kick with his tail to glide right up to the rudder, his bright white belly reflecting the sunlight. He swam effortlessly, easily matching our 6 knots without so much as a twitch of his body.

Wilson continued this routine for a while, coming closer and closer each pass. At times he was RIGHT next to the boat, maybe five feet under the surface. I could have stepped onto his back without getting wet. His presence and sheer mass gave me chills. Being that close to nature is special. Each one of us inadvertently and without hardly noticing let out several 'Wow!' and 'Look at that!' comments in Wilson's presence. Kevin was able to get some amazing underwater footage on his GoPro, which we will post once we are back ashore. But what a moment.

So the trip is ending on a high note. We're not there yet, and won't fully relax until we are through the reef and safely at anchor or at the dock, but right now the conditions are pleasant, to put it mildly. After motoring through a calm night, the breeze it back, just enough to ease us along on a flat sea, making 4-5 knots, just fast enough to time our arrival outside the reef tomorrow morning in daylight. I made 'mung' for breakfast - the leftover ground beef and veggies scrambled into a dozen eggs - and Dad just loaded the fridge with beer to preemptively cool it in anticipation of lifting the alcohol prohibition once through the reef tomorrow.

Until Next Time, Andy, Dad, Tom & Kevin