2015 MAR – HUMPBACKS

HUMPBACKS

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One of the waiters in Mazatlan said that he would join me as crew. But as happens every time, when crunch time came and I said I was leaving Friday, the young man found a host of excuses. His mother, sister, boss, girlfriend didn’t want him to go.
Francisco, a waiter from my other favorite restaurant, said he would come along as crew and duly arrived Thursday evening carrying a tote of clothes. Apparently his family were more enthusiastic about him having an adventure.

We set off Friday morning, and Francisco has an eye for the sea. I thought the Pacific was dead because I had yet to see any marine life, but Francisco is my lucky charm. We saw dozens of turtles all struggling north into the Sea of Cortez. From the large numbers, it looked like they were going to have quite the love fest on a beach someplace.

He also pointed out whales and dolphins and balls of fish being dive bombed by birds. Who knew the Pacific was teeming with life? We trolled our fishing line throughout the trip, but didn’t catch a thing. Francisco said it was because my 2 lures were pink and yellow and no self respecting macho fish would be attracted to those colors.

We travelled through Friday, and Friday night, and all day Saturday. By late afternoon we were approaching the extreme northern point of Banderas Bay and still had about 3 hours to go to reach La Cruz, my eventual destination. I decided to take advantage of the fading light and anchor for the night while I still had some sunlight to see my way around the anchorage. There were only about 8 other boats in the Punta de Mita bay so we dropped anchor and we both hit the sack and slept until way past sun up on Sunday.

Then we upped anchor and as we started off Francisco pointed out some whales that were cavorting to seaward. I turned the boat in their direction and by the time we reached them, a host of pangas jammed with tourists had already arrived – seemingly from nowhere – and were lined up around the whales at a respectful distance.

What a spectacular sight. It was 2 very large Humpback adults, and a baby about 8-10 foot long. The adults flew out of the water, doing almost full body breaches, over and over and over. The sight of 60-70 foot giant humpbacks hurling themselves out of the water, exposing huge bodies almost down to their tails, and then crashing back down, is quite breathtaking.

So is the wave they kick up.

Baby was too cute. He was having a blast being protected by the adults. He hurled himself around the sea with joyous abandon, slapping his little tail over and over.

The adults would roll over onto their backs and raise their enormous flippers up in the air. Those flippers had to be 20 foot long at least! Baby seemed to take that as a sign to breach and he would leap clean out the water, then crash down and whack his tail over and over. He was clearly having such fun. Every time the adults rolled onto their backs and raised their fins, baby would do a full body breach. But his little body, even with all of it out of the water, was just half the size of the adults fins! He was just too cute.

I was keeping a wary distance behind the tourist boats because if one of those whales breached on my boat, I would sink in seconds. I made sure there was always some tourist boats between me and the whales.

Suddenly the sea, which had been churning with all their splashing and jumping, went eerily silent. Where did they go? The next minute, not fifty feet away, this leviathan leaped out of the sea and crashed down next to the boat. I was horrified. I rushed to the wheel to turn us away, but I didn’t know in which direction?! There was after all another adult and baby down there somewhere. I just sat there at the wheel, hoping that the sound of my idling engine would keep the whales away.

Eventually they all resurfaced to my right and started leaping and splashing and breaching again. I heaved a sigh of relief. That was seriously too close for comfort.

We followed the whales for about an hour, then reluctantly turned and headed for La Cruz.

Truly that was one of nature’s most awesome displays of power. And a sheer delight.

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Baby breaching – an iPhone camera doesn’t do this justice

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Big fella breaching

Francisco on the bow, whale breaching in background

Francisco on the bow, whale breaching in background

 

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