Enroute to Tonga
21 August 2011 | 19 00S 170 22W
I had a great swim with a whale yesterday at Niue. Click on the Videos link and then look for the video "Whales at Niue". We had rented a van to tour the island and on the second day, (yesterday) I had them drop me and Dean back at the boat thinking I might get a chance to swim with the whales. Sure enough about 4pm I sighed a whale about 200 meters off our stern and asked Dean to take me out in the dingy. Unfortunately he did not have any snorkel equipment having lent it to others earlier in the day but he did grab his video camera for some above water shots. We headed out to where I had sighted him and waited for about 15 minutes for him to surface again revealing his position. With the fresh bearing we adjusted course and several minutes later he surfaced less than 10 meters in front of the dingy. I got in the water, just a little spooky as even though we were not far from Ovive, the water was at least 300 meters deep and shortly afterwards spotted him about 15 to 20 meters down. As I free dived down closer to him with my underwater camera that is only designed to go to 3 meters the song was so loud I could feel the vibrations in my chest. I stayed with him until he surfaced about 15 minutes later. What started out as just me and Dean in one dingy turned into a total of 6 dingys and probably a few too many people but I must say most were hanging well back giving the whale plenty of space. This was good for videoing in some ways but if I had one swimmer in the picture it would have lent some size perspective. We spent two nights in the anchorage with numerous whales both nights but last night one surfaced less than 1 meter from our starboard stern. We left this morning at 6am along with a Outreamer 49 that I forgot to mention in the last post, we had beat in a race up from Beverage Reef. That being a lighter air sail and hard on the wind they were looking for a rematch today in strong winds from behind. We both dropped our mooring simultaneously but we took an early lead due to getting our main up faster. They soon passed us as they were flying their screecher while we were using working sails. We discussed raising the screecher but decided there was just too much wind and they would probably lower theirs soon and use their working jib due to the conditions. A quick radio call confirmed their intention to gain a slight lead and then lower the screecher as they were just at the limit of what the sail could take. Unfortunately the sail ripped before they had a chance to lower it and we are now slowly gaining on them. The results to be announced on the next blog post.