After many days of battling the Indian Ocean and once again with night approaching, I couldn’t help but wonder if any creature other than me was feeling ….well….yes lonely… lonely in the midst of this vast inhospitable place. At least the rough seas of recent days had begun to calm and with that small comfort I went to my berth for a sleep. At some point in the night, I was awakened by a sound that I had not heard before, a sort of wooshing, snorting sound….how curious. I ascended the stairs to the cockpit and followed the sounds…..to the port railing. And there in the moonlit night, next to Shearwater was an enormous shadow. No sooner had I arrived however, it gently descended, disappeared and, to my utter amazement, reappeared between the two hulls, only an enormous tail visible off the stern of the boat – a whale.
And for the next hour this massive creature, swam with us, hugging the cozy space between our two hulls, with that wooshing exhale of air and water every 3 minutes or so…..up against the belly of Shearwater.
I was mesmerized, charmed and wondered if indeed we shared something in common on that dark moonlit night on the Indian Ocean. Were we both…..well….yes…..a bit lonely?
However, my reverie was rudely interrupted by a nasty thought. What if one errant flick of that mighty tail slapped against one or both rudders? That’s all it would take, one slap, to leave us crippled and unable to steer – with but thousands of miles of water between us and the nearest land. But what to do? Should I make noise, turn on lights, blow the horn, prod her with an oar? No, that could make matters much worse. Or....lets see - that whale knows exactly where her tail is albeit a few inches from the rudders– maybe I should just do nothing and…..yes….do nothing … accept this unique visit from the depths… quietly and peacefully.
But anyway, how do you shoo-away-awhale?