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Old 15-02-2021, 10:29   #106
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Re: Weirdest things you've seen on the water.

I once went Asian Carp hunting on the Illinois River in Peoria, IL. For those not aware, Asian Carp are an invasive species in the rivers of the central United States. They reproduce very rapidly and have been decimating natural fish species by eating all of their food. The government strongly encourages killing as many of them as you'd like, but they are not good for eating as they are very bony.
There are some ecologically-minded entrepreneurs who will take you on a carp hunting outing whereby you sit on the back of a fishing boat with a bow and retractable arrow and shoot the carp out of the air. The wake from the boat riles them up and they jump high up into the air. It was quite the experience. You can seach "Asian carp hunting" on YouTube for some entertainment.

These are the guys I went with. Yes, they are pretty much insane:



(and before the animal lovers get mad at me for this, please understand that for every Asian Carp that is killed, it is estimated it saves 2-3 native fish)
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Old 15-02-2021, 10:38   #107
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Re: Weirdest things you've seen on the water.

Sailing out of Boothbay Harbor, Maine one August morning with my soon-to-be inlaws on my Morris Leigh 30. Me doing my best to be the capable and able captain (both of them experienced sailors) and also trying to present an appealing manor and demeanor as they evaluated my suitability as a son-in-law. A brisk SW breeze, on the port tack, close hauled, the lee rail nicely tucked, when immediately under the starboard bow there appeared the back of a 30' whale crossing from starboard to port. The involuntary expletive that spouted from my mouth at a volume which made all other sounds irrelevant changed the mood quite abruptly! We all recovered... but I have never forgotten that moment and the instant horror that I experienced at what I thought was going to be a terminal gaff! Not to worry... it was an ice breaker the likes of which one could only have dreamed of! :-) (Oh, and the whale was gone as quickly as it appeared and if hull and whale actually touched it was imperceptible.)
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Old 15-02-2021, 10:40   #108
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Re: Weirdest things you've seen on the water.

I was sitting on the beach, about midnight, near Port St. Joe, Florida. As I look westward along the beach, I notice a silent red glowing light/object rising at about a 35 degree angle from over land, and heading offshore, at a slow constant speed. It appeared to be less than a mile away. It moved much slower than an aircraft, but also did not appear to be a helicopter. I tracked it, and when it was silhouetted against the belt of the Milky Way, it appeared to shoot straight up, and instantly vanish. I think not much of it. I then see a series of 4 other identical objects follow the same path, one after another, over a period of about 5 minutes, and which also behaved identically. Only one was in the sky at a time, and all were completely silent. Like a delayed formation. Still scratching my head.
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Old 15-02-2021, 10:52   #109
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Re: Weirdest things you've seen on the water.

Once, off Vancouver, British Columbia, in the Strait of Georgia, we saw concentric circles radiating out and out and out in the water, for a long time. Later checked earthquake records and there was no teeny tremor noted. This was maybe about 10 years ago. That was WEIRD.
In about the same area, however, actually right off Point Grey, about 18 years ago, we were literally surrounded by Orcas breaching, spy-hopping (where they just peak above the water), and lob-tailing all around us. It lasted a long time. All the while, powerboats with their less-than-clued-in owners were merrily powering past, completely ignoring Nature's free movie of incredible beauty. So: which was weirder or more amazing? The pod of whales (dolphins?) that had decided to give us a show?
Another time, transmitting Porlier Pass between Valdez and Galiano Islands, we were accompanied by a HUGE pod of dolphins, who played with our catamaran, bow-waving and peaking at us for a long time.
Have a boat, especially a stable wonderful completely workable catamaran, in British Columbia is wonderful!
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Old 15-02-2021, 11:26   #110
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Re: Weirdest things you've seen on the water.

In the mid-90s, I had finally escaped London and my career and was adventuring as a race yacht navigator and delivery skipper. One May, we were a few days into the delivery from Falmouth to the Balearics of an Inchcape 45 ketch yacht. A lovely old boat with a beautiful six-cylinder Gardner engine. I had elected to sail down the ten-degree meridian to stay clear of coastal traffic and be well into the dolphin lanes.

I'd implemented a three-watch system with a dog-watch to ensure a fair distribution of day and night duties. On one moonless midnight watch, I noticed a faint return on the radar, an old Kelvin Hughes analogue device with loads of knobs and buttons. The target slowly filled in, became stronger and kept station about a quarter of a mile off our starboard beam. After about ten minutes of ineffectual waving, switching on inadequate searchlights and peering into dodgy old military binoculars, the resolutely invisible - except to radar - target began to slowly fade and disappear into the drainpipe darkness again. There were no meteorological returns that night, it was tranquil and nothing interrupted the steady ticking of the Gardner.

Pretty soon, one of the more impressionable members of the crew was exploring mythic theories on the cause of our temporary companion. However, the Admiralty Pilot for the area revealed that were passing through a Portuguese Navy submarine exercise area. The weight of opinion then favoured the notion that one had popped up for a look and a breath of fresh air.

The pilot also advised what to do should you happen across a red and white striped buoy sporting a whip antenna topped by a white light. Apparently, the correct etiquette is to open the hatch on the side, pick up the telephone handset and speak to the distressed submarine many metres below on the other end of the line. This meant that every fishing float that we saw from then on that even vaguely fitted the description had to be evidence of a cavalier Portuguese attitude to submarine maintenance - until we inspected a couple, of course.

A few days later we made Gibralter to the soundtrack of English swearwords directed at the English from a VHF station that self-identified as Tarifa Radio on Ch16. We put it down to some incensed Francophile Spanish historians still miffed at the outcome of the Battle of Trafalgar.
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Old 15-02-2021, 11:33   #111
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Re: Weirdest things you've seen on the water.

I try to explain to non sailors how startling the moonrise could be on the ocean.
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Old 15-02-2021, 11:59   #112
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Re: Weirdest things you've seen on the water.

Quote:
Originally Posted by toda View Post
Sailing out of Boothbay Harbor, Maine one August morning with my soon-to-be inlaws on my Morris Leigh 30. Me doing my best to be the capable and able captain (both of them experienced sailors) and also trying to present an appealing manor and demeanor as they evaluated my suitability as a son-in-law. A brisk SW breeze, on the port tack, close hauled, the lee rail nicely tucked, when immediately under the starboard bow there appeared the back of a 30' whale crossing from starboard to port. The involuntary expletive that spouted from my mouth at a volume which made all other sounds irrelevant changed the mood quite abruptly! We all recovered... but I have never forgotten that moment and the instant horror that I experienced at what I thought was going to be a terminal gaff! Not to worry... it was an ice breaker the likes of which one could only have dreamed of! :-) (Oh, and the whale was gone as quickly as it appeared and if hull and whale actually touched it was imperceptible.)

After sailing the BC coast for a great many years I have come to believe that cetaceans (whales, dolphins, etc.) are intelligent, social, inquisitive, and playful. That whale you encountered was probably just having fun and no, probably did not touch you. They seem to have great body position awareness and will miss by inches, but will miss almost every time. Collisions with whales are either accidental (while they are sleeping for example) or deliberate by the whale as has been occurring off Spain and Portugal recently.

A very good friend of mine was kayaking in Blackfish Sound at the north end of Johnstone Straits a few years ago. While sitting quietly in her kayak just enjoying the world on a beautiful, dead calm, summer day (she's an audiologist and really LOVES silence) a pod of killer whales passed by. A female detached itself from the pod and swam straight at her, as if to T-bone her. Her fellow kayakers started screaming at her to get moving and get out of there. She just sat, watched, and waited as this large "killer whale" sped directly at her. A few feet away it slipped under the water ("dove" would be an exaggeration) and rolled on it's back so it's dorsal fin wouldn't hit the kayak, passed under her not more than a foot below her kayak, rolled back upright, and surfaced again. My kayaking friend (she's been a docent at the Vancouver Aquarium for forty years and is a superb amateur marine biologist) swore the whale winked at her as it made a wide arc around her and returned to the pod.

Folks, they are intelligent mammals, at the top of the marine pyramid - as humans are on land. They are social and just want to have some fun on occasion. My friend knew she was safe because she's studied these whales for a lot of years and there has NEVER been a whale attack on a human on this coast. She just sat there and reveled in the experience.


Last summer, while sailing in Sutil Channel off the mouth of Van Donop Inlet (just north of Desolation Sound) we encountered a HUGE school of Dahl porpoises racing like hell (it appeared) to get away from a whale that was chasing them. They were spending FAR more time in the air than my experience tells me would be normal and the water was just boiling as they raced along. There must have been a couple of hundred individuals anyway.

I've seen this sort of thing when a pod of transient Orcas hunted a large school of Pacific White-sided dolphins outside our home in Pender Harbour and I thought Wow, these guys are really trying to get away from that whale.

That's when I realized the whale was a Humpback. Now Humpback whales are baleen whales. They eat little stuff like krill (lot's of it!). They couldn't even chew or swallow a dolphin or porpoise. So what was going on?

This whole parade passed us at high speed then, a little way down the channel, it all stopped and the porpoises clustered around the whale like kids at birthday party when the cake comes out. The only possible explanation I can come up with was they were just having fun - racing around the field with their big cousin then kibitzing afterwards: "Hey that was fun! Let's meet here next week and do it all again!".

Fascinating and amazing to watch for sure!
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Old 15-02-2021, 12:24   #113
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Re: Weirdest things you've seen on the water.

I have spent a lot of time at sea. One night when I was out in the middle of the Pacific about midway to the Marquesas, it was a full moon and I look out in the direction I were heading and saw a light colored arch going from horizon to horizon. I gave it some thought it reminded me of a rainbow and not every hearing about a rainbow at night I christen it a "moonbow". I have never seen one since but I understand other sailors have reported the same occurrence!
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Old 15-02-2021, 12:28   #114
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Re: Weirdest things you've seen on the water.

Jada And The Whale In The Night

Itís 1983, and Iím fishing off the northwest coast of the Big Island near Mahukona, in "Jada", a little 24-foot displacement hull boat I'd designed and built to be fuel-efficient, inexpensive to build, and comfortable and capable out on the fishing grounds.

I thought the world needed fuel-efficient workboats, and would beat a path to my door for design work, and to have many more Jadas built! How wrong I was! But that is another story, and this story is about a sunny day out on the crystal tropical ocean, and a starry night heading home with the day's catch.

It was a normal fishing day for me; I had no crew on board. I didn't need one on this small a vessel, because an extra hand didn't catch any more fish in the type of fishing I was doing, but needed to be paid! I was setting a short, shallow flagline with live bait for mahi mahi and ono.

My flagline was about a mile of 1/4-inch diameter rope with hooks on leaders snapped to it at intervals. It had floats snapped on about every 600 feet or so, with flags on some of the floats, hence the name "flagline".

The night before, I'd anchored in about 20 fathoms of water over a sandy bottom at my "secret" spot, and using little feather jigs on a 30-pound test monofilament handline, had caught a live bait well full of akule and halalu (those are mature and juvenile big-eyed mackerel scad, respectively, for those of you who don't know Hawaiian fish names).

Between the times when the ďbiteĒ was on, I got a little sleep, but the main thing was that I had all the live bait I needed for the next day's fishing.

I motored out to the spot I'd chosen to set my flagline just before dawn, and had the entire line baited and set by the time it was light. Akule make a croaking noise when you hook them, for they don't like it (who would?), but live bait outfishes dead bait by a factor of twenty to one or more, so live bait it was.

Besides, everything in the ocean is always trying to eat something smaller than it, so I figured they knew the risks when they took a whack at my little jigs the night before.

While the whole line had about 90 hooks on it, I had only forty pieces of bait, so I set all forty, leaving none for later rebaiting, and unclipped the unused flagline, leaving it in the line bin. Then I threw my littlest sea anchor and hung on it after a breakfast of rice and Portuguese sausage, napping intermittently until about ten or so.

I had kept watch down the length of my line when I was awake, and didn't let myself nod off until I was satisfied that the line and my little boat were drifting at roughly the same speed in the same direction. I had no radar back then, and no way to find my flagline if the wind picked up, made whitecaps, and I was unable to visually locate the line. This was important, because to get separated from one's flagline means possibly not being able to find it again, an expensive mistake!

You also don't just tie off your 3,000-lb boat to the flagline, because then fish that hook themselves have something solid to pull against and break free. With the line floating free, a big fish only has the lighter resistance of the line itself to pull against; and your fish tends to stay on the line. So you have to stay near enough to the line to spot it, but not be tied to it.

The long story short of it is that I caught three mahi-mahi, one 42 pounds, and a 36-pound ono that day. They were all worth $3.95 a pound to the fish buyers, so I had about $500 worth of fish on board. This was 37 years ago, and that would be around $1,500 worth now.

For a boat that only cost $22/day of fuel and ice to run, this was a good day, and I headed home satisfied and comfortable after pulling the line in just before dark. I was truly exhausted, but remember thinking it had been a good day. I got the last of the line in just as the sun hit the water, and immediately turned on my running lights to head home.

The day wasn't over yet, not until I tied up, iced down the fish with more ice (waiting in my truck at the dock) and collapsed into a dry bunk. I was about fifteen miles from the harbor, and at ten knots, I had an hour and a half's run back home.

It was a quiet night; there were no other boats out on the water, and I just ran along under the stars, the diesel thumping away, and the night sky turning and sparkling overhead.

After about an hour, I was getting close to the harbor, and for some reason I decided to stick my head outside the cabin, looking forward along the port side of the cabin, and steer from that position using my left hand.

I'd only been doing that for about five minutes when I saw something ahead of me that almost stopped my heart: the head of a humpback whale was coming out of the water sixty feet ahead of my bow!

The whale was going the same direction I was going, but LOTS more slowly. I dropped the wheel and grabbed the shift lever with my left hand, slamming it from full forward into full reverse in a second. Not exactly recommended operating procedure, but neither is running into forty-ton whales (I found out the next day I'd cracked the stainless steel shaft coupling in half).

If I hadn't been so shot through with adrenaline, I might have done some math: 1-1/2 tons of plywood boat hitting 30 tons of whale at ten knots, equals what? Not something I'd want on my resume, that's for sure.

The engine screamed, the boat shuddered, and we were still doing about four knots forward through the water when we gently drifted over the place the whale's tail had just disappeared. We missed kissing it by about 15 feet. It looked HUGE and black in the starlight, and about twenty feet across.

I idled back the engine, put it in neutral, and shook for a good long while. I think I used the s*&t word a lot, for I had to get rid of the nervous energy somehow.

When I did put her into forward again, I had my head outside the coaming the entire way back into the harbor. I also think I ran at 3/4 throttle rather than full.

The most amazing thing came afterwards, when I had time to think about it. When I am diving, I can hear powerboats, especially diesels, hundreds of feet away underwater, because sound carries so well in the liquid medium. I'd always thought whales could hear even better, and had an incredible sonar "picture" of what was going on all around them.

Was this a "deaf" whale, a stupid or careless one? Do humpbacks have a "blind spot" directly behind them? Because that's where I'd come up on the whale from. I never figured it out, and all the whale experts I talked to about the incident were baffled by it.


When Iím motoring at night during whale season, I now steer from outside the cabin.

With Warm Aloha, Tim
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Old 15-02-2021, 12:46   #115
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Re: Weirdest things you've seen on the water.

Fishing in a 17í boat near Savary Island (Georgia Straight) Noticed a triangular shape on the surface out of the corner of my eye. It suddenly occurred that this might have been a whale.
Shut off my motor and drifted, hoping to catch sight of the whale / it surfaced right behind my boat and checked me out. What an experience - eyeball to eyeball with a grey whale. After a while it submerged and went on its way.
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Old 15-02-2021, 13:09   #116
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Re: Weirdest things you've seen on the water.

A step in the level of the sea. Once when motoring from south to north in the Cook Strait, NZ, I saw a step about 2ft high in a flat calm sea. We motored across this step without noticing any affect on the yacht. It was presumably the tide.

Those who are used to these waters will realise the weirdest thing described here is flat calm water in the Cook Strait.
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Old 15-02-2021, 13:52   #117
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Re: Weirdest things you've seen on the water.

A few years ago we were at anchor in the San Juan islands. About 6 AM our cats went berserk running from bow to stern looking out every window while making strange chittering sounds. When we got up to investigate, we found hundreds of swallows perched on every available horizontal surface except the deck. The lifelines were covered, the rails were loaded, there were even birds on the boom all making the characteristic swallow song sometimes described as chirps and gurgles. After about an hour, they all left at the same time. Apparently they were migrating and chose our boat for a roost.
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Old 15-02-2021, 13:53   #118
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Re: Weirdest things you've seen on the water.

Two items stand out:

On a small tour boat in Costa Rica when a pod of false killer whares swam into the bay completely surrounding the boat and staying for quite a while. The best part was when some of the adults decided to teach the kiddies how to fish, put a dead fish on the water surface and encourage the youngsters to try to catch it. It was fascinating to watch.

The second was at our home harbor. Just pulling into Gardiner's Bay when we see a parachute floating down from the sky. We sailed over to the object and it turned out to be the transmitter from one of those radio devices the National Weather Service sends up in balloons to transmit the weather at altitude. And it came with detailed instructions on how to mail it back, which we did.
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Old 15-02-2021, 14:30   #119
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Re: Weirdest things you've seen on the water.

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About 30 years ago, we were in Long Island Sound coming back from Block Island when off to the side of us, the water started bulging up, a large area, quite smooth. It was a sub returning to the sub base in CT.
Hey Ed. Seen that many time in LIS. Freaked me out. Did you actually see the sub? I figured it was the current welling up from smacking into the multiple underwater ridges and cliff faces. I finally did some sounding tests which confirmed the strange upwelling. At least in my mind.
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Old 15-02-2021, 15:57   #120
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Re: Weirdest things you've seen on the water.

Atlantic crossing, between Bermuda and Azores, drifting in a mirror flat calm, silent as only the ocean can be, 2 am, alone on watch, looking at the stars while laying on the side decks; a whale surfaces, 10 feet from the boat and blows....
Scared the **** out of me and I swear I could see over the mast head I jumped so high. I donít think my heart has ever been the same.
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