21st April 2008 A long day out to Challenger twice Print
Written by Andrew Stevenson   

We set off on Sea Slipper with Michael Smith, Camilla Stringer, Ted and myself at 9.00 am and came back at 9.30 pm after a long day on the water. The following detailed notes were taken on board and sent in by Camilla Stringer.

Soon after going under Watford Bridge we pull out a pile of discarded rope that had been drifting in the ocean. After pulling the rope from the water we set out to Sally Tucker’s and then Challenger Banks.  

   

 

1.10

Blow spotted by Andrew

1.16

8 blows

1.20

More blows and we can the sun glinting off the whales’ backs.

1.22

Pecslapping & many blows (N32 07 085, W65 04 152)

1.27

We are in 190 ft of water, we see blows and bubbles being blown underwater.

1.28

Two whales surface to our right.  They blow 4 or 5 times keeping just below the surface of the water.

1.35

A whale surfaces dead astern.  We turn to follow it.

1.40

Two whales surface and blow dead astern.  We realise that there are two groups of whales.  We turn back to stay with the original whales we were with.

1.43

The second group of whales blow behind us again and blow bubbles.

1.46

The whales we are traveling with blow  - the are on the edge of the banks (N32 08 091 W065 04 378 – heading ENE)

1.55

The whales surface and spout twice.

1.57

Two whales breach almost simultaneously, 3 times.

1.58

2 blows

2.00

Several blows, and when we reach the footprint left by the breaching whales we can see small flakes of skin in the water.

2.05

More blows – Andrew thinks that we may be traveling alongside a mother and calf that are feeding.

2.06

Two more blows.

2.09

Two more blows.

2.14

Four spouts.

2.15

More spouts. (N32 10 W62 02 – traveling at 31/2 – 4 knots.  We have been traveling in a straight line on autopilot)

2.21

The whales have moved along side and matched our speed.  They surface close to the boat.

2.23

Still traveling parallel with us they surface about 100 yards away.

2.25

We increase our speed to 41/2 knots as the whales pull ahead of us.  They surface and blow 3 times.

2.26

The whales dive  - their flukes lifted out of the water.

2.34

The surface 100ft off-side.

2.36

The surface again.  The whales have slowed to about 4 knots and are heading towards the point of Sally Tucker’s.

2.39

Surface beside the boat again.

2.44

Two blows.

2.46

The break the surface.

2.48

We are back on Sally Tucker’s.

2.51

Whales cut across behind the boat.  We don’t they are ones we have been traveling with.  Andrew hopes there will be an opportunity to get in the water as the whales are showing no signs of being bothered by out presence.

2.52

Two whales surface beside the boat again.

2.53

And again.

2.55

A whale surfaces behind the boat, about 300ft off – could this be an escort that has followed us all the way from challenger while we have been watching the two whales traveling on our starboard?

2.57

Andrew spots a fluke about ¾ mile to port.

2.59

He sees spouts in the same spot.

3.01

What we think are the original whales we have traveled from Challenger with surface beside the boat.  We are in 147 ft of water.  The whales dive, one showing the fluke (N32 12 W65 00)

3.09

A whale moves across the stern.  Mike puts the boat into neutral. The whales turn and dive.

3.16

Two whales cut across our bow and dive showing a fluke in 73 ft of water.

3.24

Two whales surface 300 yds to starboard – they spout three times and dive.

3.27

As the whales seem to be feeding we leave them and head back to Challenger.  The whales are heading along the edge of Sally Tuckers, diving and staying down for longer.

3.53

We are joined by a pod of dolphins who bow ride for 7-8 minutes.  They seem to leave us, then we see them porpoising.  There are too many to count and the cut across in front of us and then come back and bow ride for another couple of minutes before disappearing.

4.08

We see a breach approx. 2 miles away, closely followed by four more.

4.09

More breaches (N32 07 W65 01)

4.16

Pecslapping and blows.

4.21

Pecslapping and blows.

4.26

Two more breaches.  Dive with fluke visible about 400 yds away.

4.32

Whales surfaces 150 yds in front of us – fluke shot.

4.40

Three spouts way off to port (further out to sea.)

4.43

Spout and Pecslapping astern.

4.46

Andrew sees what we think is a different whale behind us.

4.48

Fluke shot ahead.

5.00

A whale surfaces near the boat. (N32 04 W65 01)  The seas are now really calm and the wind has dropped away.

5.01

Four breaches about 2 miles off.

5.02

A huge breach, the whale almost completely leaving the water, shortly followed by two more. 

5.04

Spout.

5.07

Three spouts.

5.17

Pecslapping and two blows about 75 yrds off.  The whale dives, showing fluke.

5.31

Breach. (N32 03 W65 05)

5.34

Four blows and the whales dive, one showing a black fluke.

5.37

A 5.42the boat and breathes a couple of times and then dives.  We are heading back towards Bermuda.

5.52

Breach approx 1 mile away, a second breach looks even further away.

6.48

The last trace of humpbacks – a spout is spotted on the southern edge of Sally Tucker’s in 2700 ft of water.  We continue heading home, reaching Darrell’s Wharf at about 9 p.m.  A wonderful day.