Whale watching and sailing 2014
January 12, 2014 by Bryan
On Saturday I had the opportunity to go sailing on my co-worker, David’s 40 foot teak sailboat. We motored out of Shelter Island and the San Diego bay. On the way we passed various research vessels and submarines docked along the coast. We could hear the occasional thunder of Super Hornets taking off from the North Island Naval Air Station Halsey Field.
As we began to set sail and turn off the motor, David gave us some basic instructions into sailing. We soon learned the importance of tacking the sail when changing direction in relation to the wind. At least five whale watching vessels flanked us on our way out and they soon clustered together around a possible whale spotting.
I moved fore and tried to spot any spouts of water that would show that a whale was surfacing. Finally I spotted one and snapped a few photos. As soon as it was visible, it was gone again swimming under the dark surface of the water.
Our plan was to get in front of the whale watching ships and catch the next whale before it got to them. We sailed for a few hours and saw nothing until finally we spotted another whale and this time I was able to capture the tail fin before this one disappeared too.
Shortly after this spotting, a very dense and low fog rolled in and visibility dropped to a few hundred feet at most. I took the helm and David turned on the Simrad branded GPS/RADAR navigation system. I turned us around while David and Dilip tacked the foresail. I used previous courses used by David to follow on the GPS and navigate us into the bay via instruments only.
A few hundred feet past Point Loma, we cleared the fog bank and it just became absolutely clear again. I managed to take a few photos while still at the helm. Once in the clear and since we were again under motor power, I turned into the wind and David took down the sails. I took us all the way into Shelter Island just to the point before heading down the actual slip.
David took over the helm but he mentioned to us that since it was just shortly past low tide that we might not make it into the slip. These predictions turned out to be true when we got stuck in the mud just a short while later. Since we were not soon going anywhere, Will, Dilip, David and I went down below and played cards while drinking port wine and eating artisan cheese while waiting for the tide to rise. I have to admit that this is not a horrible way to pass the time. Eventually we all saw movement out the windows and like that we were free of the mud and able to pull into the slip and get off.
Photo Credit: David