Today was the first of three early mornings. The alarm went off at 3am, it was pitch black and we could hear a light rain on the roof. We packed breakfast into the front of our PFDs and headed down to the boats. We set off with Ngaio wearing a head torch and I had a navigational light strapped to the top of my boat. Ngaio was finding it disorienting not being able to see where we were going or what the ocean was doing but I was using the GPS to navigate through the reefs so I knew exactly were we were.
Even though it sounds like the complete wrong thing! I turned off both our lights and waited, letting our eyes adjust to the dark. Pretty quickly we could see the skyline and the islands out at sea. Once our eyes had adjusted we paddled with our lights off, ready to switch them on if we saw any other boats. As soon as the lights were gone it became a magical morning. Everything that moved, lit up. Each time our paddles touched the water it would glow, a light rain was falling creating the most magical appearance of stars shining in the ocean. The sea had been transformed into a a wonderland of illumination. Bioluminescent or phosphorescence (no internet to check my spelling here so just interpret as required) made a chilly wet early start, more than worth it.
The horizon began to get lighter, making the rocks and reefs and approaching headlands all easy to see. We paddled quietly along the coast, I was lost in thought about the weather and the winds when I was bought back to reality by the distinct sound of a whale breathing followed by a high spray of water. There was the back of a big whale just heading back under water, right in front of us, it looked huge! A few moments later it appeared again, behind us this time but so close. We think it was a grey whale, it had a very small dorsal fin and it came to surface about 6 times before heading out to the deeper ocean. This was the first whale we have seen and we were both so happy. What an amazing start to the day we had had.
The buzz from the whale kept us going at a pretty good speed along the coast, we could see the headland we needed to make it around before lunch time when the wind picked up. We were around the point by 11am and into a more sheltered inlet to paddle. We came around the back of a beautiful island called Catalla island, if we weren’t on a schedule for the next few days we would have stayed here without a doubt.
I landed on the shore to take some photos of a cute little deer on one of the beaches. Meanwhile Ngaio was in the bay where she dropped her sunglasses to the bottom of the big blue ocean. I think she was giving them to the otters and made it look like an accident...
The last hour was a push across a choppy channel to a group of islands where we would camp. Here we saw our second gray whale. We couldn’t believe it, it was so close to us and our second whale that day. We landed at a small island feeling exhausted as we paddled 40km but so happy from the experiences of the day.
GPS Tracker Tips - If you are following Brando & Ngaio on their TRACKME GPS tracker, here's a tip; Once you follow the link, click on the 'Brando & Ngaio' location icon and select 'path'
(If the Brando and Ngaio Icon does not show up on the map click the menu then participant list then 'show all')
(first image and blog via satellite phone)