North Sails NEWS
“If you surrender to adventure there are no failures along the way, just unexpected steps in a journey that is only revealed as the story unfolds.”
Nicole and I were happily snorkeling in clear blue water, surrounded by giant stingrays and blacktip sharks, when suddenly the sharks began to frenzy. They began swimming rapidly in tight circles, twitching and slashing, clearly excited about something at the surface. I looked above the water and saw two somewhat drunk men in a small boat laughing while throwing bloody fish scraps in the water next to us. .
Our friend’s fearless 9-year old daughter Fran was with us. Her eyes were wide with excitement and glee, I’m sure she would have swam into the middle of the school of thrashing sharks if Nicole and I ha
dn’t decided it was time to move on. We placed Fran between us and swam back to the dinghy. “That was SO COOL!” Fran exclaimed as we motored back to the anchorage. Nicole and I looked at each other and nodded in agreement, it WAS cool.
Before the sharks got crazy the giant stingrays had all our attention. They were incredibly intelligent, sometimes swimming to specific people they recognize and positioning themselves in specific ways to solicit a nose rub or to offer a short ride. The rest of the time the rays would swarm around us, rubbing against us looking for food and attention. It was like having a 360-degree stingray massage. Before the frenzy the sharks continuously circled in the distance hoping for whatever scraps of food the rays might leave.
This all took place in the middle of the huge blue and green lagoon about a half-mile from shore. The rays were wild, free to leave at any time, but they would repeatedly return to play long after the food was gone.
When we arrived back at the anchorage we dropped a still beaming Fran at her parent’s boat and decided it was time to clean the algae off of Naoma’s hull. We scrubbed the bottom while spotted eagle rays and all kinds of tropical fish swam around us in the warm clear water.
Cruising offers the unique opportunity to experience the ocean as something much deeper than just an aquatic highway for boats to glide over. There is a tangible energy in the weightless depths beneath the ocean’s surface, an alien world of stunning colors and shapes, full of more life per unit of area than the dry world we know at the surface. The oceans are the source- they drive our weather, provide much of the oxygen we breathe, the food we eat, ultimately even the water we drink. The ocean’s waters are the last surviving wilderness, with infinite undiscovered wonders hidden in her depths. It’s a gift to drift weightlessly in her embrace.
After we finished cleaning the hull Nicole noticed something large floating on the surface about 100 meters away. From our vantage point it almost looked like a large log but suddenly a spout of water blew up with a loud whoosh. A humpback whale! We quickly hopped in our dinghy and moved to a position ahead of where we hoped the whale was swimming. We shut off the motor, slipped into the water, and waited silently.
Soon an enormous shape gracefully materialized out of the blue. It was the whale, leisurely drifting on the surface directly towards us. Nicole let out an excited squeal when the whale got closer and we realized it was mother with her calf!
The baby whale was almost as large as our sailboat and was drifting along close to its much larger mother. Occasionally the calf would gently lean into its mother as if giving her an affectionate nuzzle.
The mother drifted along motionless and peaceful but always keeping a watchful eye on us. After a while she gently swooped her pectoral fins, lifted her tail, and together with her somewhat less graceful calf, disappeared into the depths.
All these experiences began with a dream, a boat, and some white triangles to drive her. Now we’re dancing with stingrays, watching sharks feed, and drifting with whales, all afloat together, in this adventurous humbling inspiring life at sea.