Whales Everywhere!

Whale breaching near Raoul IslandWe had an interesting night “sheltered” at Raoul island. We were anchored on the NE side of the island expecting mostly south winds from the storm that was going to pass during the night. Sure enough, the winds were mostly from the south from the storm, but the huge island managed to suck then winds around the east end. We still saw 25+ knots of wind and some pretty big swells during the night. I slept with a GPS performing anchor watch duty.

The next morning, we got the weather forecasts on the radio. As Paul and I were chatting, he spotted a whale breach about 100m behind our boat! We ran out and saw two adults and a calf cavorting along towards the nearby Meyers Islands. I took several photos with the telephoto. I got a great sequence of a whale breaching and landing on his back.  Later we saw another pair of adult humpbacks go by.

Mid-morning we weighed anchor and motored west along the northern coast in the lee of the winds. When we got to the NW point we suddenly saw to big whales breach in the distance! Then a dolphin came swimming towards us. Meanwhile we saw hundreds of birds flying over what was probably tuna. Amazing marine life! We suddenly got out of the shield of the island and had wind and waves. We had put a triple reef in the mainsail, so we were expecting the worst. But, what really had our attention was SEVERAL PODS of whales. There were at least 12 whales we saw. Two came within three boat lengths. We had another large one doing pectoral slaps directly ahead of us at one point.

I asked Karen to get out the camera while I was trying to steer around the whales. She was a bit disappointed because she spent so much time trying to get pictures she missed a lot of the sightings.

We had big seas and winds as we left Raoul. The aftermath of the storm left 4 to 5 meter seas and 25 knot winds. We sailed all morning and part of the afternoon with a sail the size of a hobie cat. And we were still making 8 knots. Paul was impressed with how we just climbed over all the waves and the cockpit stayed dry.

Photos of the whales can be seen in this photo album:

View full-sized slideshow

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