Saturday, July 14, 2018

Whale of a Day

We had a whale of a day.  When I put the coffee pot on this morning I heard a whale blow right beside the boat.  Looking out the back I saw a whale surface about 20 feet from the stern right under the dinghy.  It was the small one - twice the length of the dinghy - maybe 25 feet.  I called out to Michelle who was sleeping in after a late-hours session with Photoshop.  I've never seen Michelle leap into action so quickly and so early and  I bet it took less than 30 seconds for her to get from the berth to the side of the boat with lens cover off and eyes wide open.  

By mid-morning the winds settled down below ten knots and the reef lagoon was as smooth as a swimming pool. Standing on top of the salon you could see the entire two mile diameter reef and clearly make out the entrance a mile away.  We haven't had enough sun to allow us to run our water maker off solar power so we decided to motor outside the reef and troll some fishing lines while we filled the water tanks. 

One lure was taken by a shark.  I'm pretty certain it was a shark.  It felt like I hooked an anchor or a sheet of plywood.  We caught a 15 pound Trevally and grilled a huge piece of it for lunch and froze about 4 pounds. The meat was excellent.  Michelle preferred it over tuna since it's lighter and milder.  

At low tide we took the dinghy out to the reef entrance for some snorkeling.  It was a wonderland.  The underwater topography at the East side of the entrance is dramatic.  There are deep channels running out to a steep drop-off.  Everything was covered with wall-to-wall hard coral.  Looking over the drop-off we could see schools of game fish hanging out down at 50-75 feet. Visibility was amazing - like a giant aquarium. Unfortunately we picked a section of reef owned by two white tip sharks who would not go away.  They were obviously agitated so we jumped in the dinghy and moved inside the reef to poke around some coral near the boat.  I say "we" jumped in the dinghy.  I crawled into the dinghy.  I think Michelle jumped into that dinghy from ten feet away.  Like a dolphin performing at Seaworld.

We decided to walk across the reef to the outside edge and check out a dive site marked on the Navionics chart. It involved a rough surf entry but we've done many of those on Bonaire while wearing a tank and weights.  The entry and exit turned out to be very easy and the site was another stunner.  We've never seen anything like it.  The size and quantity of the parrot fish alone was a jaw-dropper.  We'll go back tomorrow with the camera.  When we got back to the boat one of the whales stopped by and circled the boat about 30 feet out.  As I was writing this at 9 in the evening we heard a whale blow.  We went out with our flashlights and there was our new buddy waving a tail fin at us.  We've been the only boat here at Minerva for several days and the whales seem to be checking in more often. 

At sunset today I did some test flights with the drone taking off and landing from the bimini top.  Next time our whale friends come by Ill get some photos from 100 feet above them.  We are looking for a weather window to head to Tonga.  Tuesday is looking favorable.  But we aren't in a hurry to leave this place.

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