Sunday, December 07, 2008

Coals to Newcastle

Just Once
Just Once
Uploaded by toastfloats, taken by FIL George.
“Blow holes at eleven o’clock,” Grandpa George calls from the helm. DrC lifts his head from his book and looks around, the girls scramble up from their cabins. Humps and fins at eleven were only the start. Within minutes, the crew spotted signs of whale in every cardinal direction.

We were entering Monterey Bay. The weather had been lovely all day, though the wind chose not to pick up until mid-afternoon. With the spinnaker finally flying, we were enjoying a pleasant downwind sail into Monterey Harbor, looking forward to a layover day in that famous California coastal town.

The whales provided quite a show. Huge humped backs mounded through the waves. Large spumes of air signaled the direction to point eyes, binoculars and cameras, fins and flukes slapped the water to get our attention.

At one point, I shouted, “Forward!” It’s all I could say as a humpback leaped out of the water roughly ten yards off the port bow, landing with a thunderous splash that sent spume up onto the bows and on to the faces of my gaping children. “Grab a line!” DrC and George both shouted. We all dived for a hand-hold in case the whale decided to take on a catamaran. The enormous mammal chose instead to slide a few feet past the port beam, leaving a fuming wake of bubbles and gratefully astonished sailors. I said shakily, “That was an amazing experience... one I might not want to repeat.”

Our bow whale only punctuated a day full of Discovery Channel moments. Seagulls spent the day playing tag with Don Quixote as they dove on our bait, drafted in our wind wake, and hitched the occasional ride on the bow. Mera whiled away several hours sitting in a bow seat counting jelly fish. DrC caught a mackerel and, after much discussion and many pictures, the family decided it was insufficiently tasty eating and threw it back. We barked at sea otters rolling in kelp, George took pictures of cormorants, pelicans, and other sea birds, and the girls tried to catch sight of plankton through a microscope. As we came into the harbor, we were greeted with the sight of hundreds of sea lions basking, barking and honking on the breakwater.

At sunset, we settled down to a bobbing anchor with curry, rice and mangos. Grandpa George finished his lesson on Hinduism as DrC and I finished our last sips of wine before stirring the wasp nest that is our family preparing for bed each night. Grandpa asked the table, “So girls! What should we do tomorrow in Monterey?”

Three girls chimed harmoniously, “Let’s go to the aquarium!!” DrC smiled, I shrugged, and George laughed. “Okay! Let’s go see some sea life.”
Mush!
Mush!
Uploaded by toastfloats, taken by FIL George.

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