I am dubbed the “Wildlife Whisperer”
05/22/2014 - 05/22/2014
In transit to Newport, RI
Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
I slept like a baby all 7.5 hours allotted to me! An honest day’s work in the elements does that to a guy I guess. First time for everything, right? I had to jump up and dress quickly, slam a piece of frittata down my throat and get up on deck by 07:50.
08:00 – 12:00 is the Before Noon Watch and I was expecting a rather tame morning as we are well past the storm, dolphins and bioluminescence. I guess that you can never count any anything when you are in the ocean. The Captain decided that I would take the helm and he would clean all of the heads (bathrooms). I scored big time, right?!? Especially so, since while I was at the helm, a medium sized shark swam right next to the ship and then circles around and come back for more. Shark attack! I was able to call Charlie up on deck and he was able to see it as well. Sharks at the surface are a lot rarer to see than dolphins. What was even more impressive was that four more came while I was on watch! I had only seen one shark my entire time on Pride, now five in one morning! Two of them were big guys. Really big guys approximately 6-7’ long. AWESOMENESS and no I am not going swimming this time around. Instead I got to make lunch for the Captain and crew. I made a fresh Kale salad with Fresh Red Peppers and Cheddar Cheese Cubes. Served with Sesame Chicken and Tomatoes marinated in Balsamic Vinegar with Red Onion. Oreos for dessert.
12:00 – 16:00 Nothing but more Masonic study, blogging and relaxing. I almost forgot the waving and flailing about trying to kill the never ending stock of black flies. When I got bored with the killing of flies, I set the jib again. Such is a sailor’s life, I guess.
16:00 – 17:15 – Power Nap again. Dang my eyelids get heavy out here. Must be the rocking action of the waves that causes that.
17:15 – 17:50 Dress and eat a most delicious supper. Thank God for Phil, the ship’s Sicilian Sailor. Man, can that guy cook. Italian Sausages in a red sauce with broccoli and carrots served with my left over kale salad and garlic bread from scratch. Yummy.
17:50 – 18:00 Get instructions from C Watch, in which they said nothing exciting happened.
18:00 – 20:00 Second Dog Watch, the last watch of the day for A Watch. The Capt. told me to relieve James at the Helm. He went below to enter a log and do supper clean up. Within five minutes of me taking over we were surrounded by dolphins. I saw probably 40-50 of them. Then the babies came to play. There was a small one, probably not more than 24” that could breech clean out of the water and did so right next to me time after time. I am really bummed that I left my camera below, but it is really hard to photo anything while on watch, I have found out. They never left my side the entire watch, they just stayed and played!
It is about this time that the Capt. bursts onto deck and trots over to get a bucket and the pump. Never a good sign on a boat. Apparently the water tank had overflown into the space between two water-tight bulkheads, the space right in the middle of the bunkroom where I sleep. Only two people on A Watch translates to, we each were stuck doing what we were doing without relief. I was on the helm the entire watch and the Capt. was stuck cleaning and pumping water.
On the second hour of me as helmsmen I saw a large gathering of dolphins just forward of the ship on the starboard side, when all of a sudden a spout of water blew up into the air. My first thought was “Could this be a whale?” Well the ship came right up alongside of the pod of dolphins and sure enough there was a large whale within 5’ of the ship!!! It blew again this time get my deck wet! I called to down below and Ben, the Second Mate, popped right up and saw it as well. As we passed it, it blew one last time and then dove down. Incredible. Of course this when the rest of the shipmates decided they could grace the deck. You snooze, you lose! Laura has declared me the “Wildlife Whisperer” because every time that I take the wheel, the animals come flocking. Earlier in the trip I had joked with the Capt. that if he could deliver a whale, my trip would be complete. Needless to say my trip is now VERY complete.
Today I saw five sharks, 50 dolphins, including babies, one large whale, a bunch of ducks and a bunch of sea birds. You would think that I was at the zoo. For comparison in four months on Pride, I saw one shark, 16-18 dolphins, one whale, way off in the distance and two sea turtles. Maybe I had better ask the Capt. for some sea turtles as well.
We only have about 160 miles left to Newport, RI, which translates to about 24 more hours of sea time. Currently we are going past the entrance of New York Harbor. I am off to bed as I have Morning Watch as my next watch which is at 04:00 – 08:00. I do not mornings unless I get to see whales. That is my new rule.
Kit – The Deckhand and The Wildlife Whisperer