Saturday, April 19, 2014

Ocean Safari



Finally, we are moving!  Although the weather information that we have downloaded says that there was not supposed to be much wind last night and today, we are finally on a course and speed that puts us ahead of schedule.  Unfortunately, we are still making up time from our fight against the wind and then a few periods where we were completely becalmed, bobbing on an absolutely flat, clear sea.  We are currently about 2700 miles from our destination.

Dolphins are our constant companions day and night racing the boat, flipping and spinning up into the air.  I know they are out there but it always makes me jump a little when I am sitting in the cockpit at night and suddenly hear the sound of their blow holes only feet away.  It was especially shocking when I heard a much louder gush of spray and air and realized that a whale had surfaced just feet from our boat.  We generally try to avoid getting too close to whales as they are about as big as we are and can cause serious damage to the boat (not to mention the poor whale!).  Adam was in radio contact with a boat while coming down the Oregon coast that became disabled after they, most likely, hit a sleeping whale.  However, this whale was most definitely not asleep and most of the time it seems like they approach us because they are curious.  Adam always says we should try to talk to them and then begins to make all sorts of horrible sounds which he maintains is "whale speak."  This whale checked us out and then, most likely realizing that we were not another whale, went quickly on his merry way. 

Although Adam has not yet had any response from the whales he was able to communicate with some of the local wildlife last night.  Similar to the famous blue-footed boobie of the Galapagos, Mexico has a very healthy population of yellow-footed boobies which we have enjoyed watching as they fly around us and dive from 40-50ft to catch fish.  We also spend some time cursing them when they decide to poop all over our decks.

There are still a number of birds way out here and they often like to hitch a ride on our boat.  Last night one perched itself directly on the top of our mast and stayed there most of the night.  This was not a problem until around midnight when I noticed the lights of a fishing boat that seemed to be getting closer very rapidly.  The boobie was sitting right in front of our tri-color light -- the green, red and white light that lets other boats know we are here and which direction we are going.  I was worried that with the bird there the fishing vessel could not see our lights!  Adam was just coming on shift so I asked him to flash the tricolor and anchor light to try and scare the bird away.  This, unfortunately, did not work.  He then tried to give his loudest velociraptor scream up the mast through the hole in the cabin, again to no avail.  As an aside, if you have not heard Adam's velociraptor scream you should ask him next time you see him, seriously, it is straight out of Jurassic Park.  Next, we got out the foghorn and finally received some response from the bird but not the one we were hoping for.  We squawked at it and it squawked back at us, but didn't budge.  By this time the fishing vessel was close but we were clearly not on a collision course so we let the bird be.  He was still there when I came back on watch three hours later.  I have to say that bird must have one solid stomach to sit on that mast all night long, it made me dizzy just trying to watch him!

You may assume that our boat is the only thing for miles around that the birds can land on without getting their feet wet, but this is not the case.  Yesterday, the day of boobie shenanigans, we also saw four of these birds fighting over who got to hitch a ride on the back of a sleeping sea turtle.  They were making such a racket that the turtle eventually swam away but we enjoyed the show as each one tried to swoop in and knock the others off to gain a little respite in the middle of the big blue sea.

Stay tuned for more from the S/V Moments.  Trade winds here we come!

Posted for Rachel and Adam by Lori Hughes