Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Blow!

This afternoon's focus was "blue-water cruising for charismatic megafauna" to quote Dai Mar's address to us after breakfast, which began with the greeting "Good morning, explorers!" What that meant was sailing in large circles while Captain Rod and Bosun Sam(antha) kept eagle eyes out for what we all very soon learned was termed 'a blow' - "Whale ahoy!" or even "Spout!" apparently irremediably amateurish.

We were alongside the island of Maui, Dai Mar's home, with a line of windmills creeping along a ridge and the sea deepest blue under a clear sky. In the morning, we went out in the kayaks to explore the coast where lava flows met the water, the red-black basalt cliffs shattered and punctuated by lava tubes. Geology done, we skimmed (actually, I skimmed, or, rather, heaved, while Tom behind me - as the above photo shows - took all too literally the instruction that his main job was to steer, pft) along to a shallow cove where we could spot colourful fish in the clear, clear water.

Getting back to the boat rather hot and sweaty, it was sheer delight to be able to leap off the back deck into the beautifully warm water. I was, I must say, rather chastened that I alone flopped in awkwardly from a sitting position, while everyone else, quite a number of whom were older than me, dived professionally. And then, while I lolled on a noodle, they took turns to climb up to the second deck to leap in from there. The star, though, was steward Marqus, who triple-somersaulted from the top deck. Impressive.
Although it's early in the season, we had no trouble finding whales, with quite a few hanging out in the bay. They were humpbacks: Hawaii is their bedroom (mating and giving birth), where they come from Alaska, which is the dining room. They don't feed while here. They do, however, put on a bit of a show when they feel like it, and we saw breaches, fin and tail slapping, all close enough to be exciting, with everyone on deck. We spent the whole afternoon doing this, spotting spouts and taking photos - or, alternatively, chilling out and napping.

There was some unscheduled excitement at dinner, which Rod interrupted to tell us that when they had the window open up on the bridge, he and Sam had heard someone shouting "Help!" in the darkness. They sent out a skiff, and found a distressed woman in the water, far from shore - apparently a would-be suicide who had changed her mind. They got her warm and dry in private out on the back deck, and sent for the Coastguard "to give her the help that she needs". A marine rescue! Well done, UnCruise.


And finally, Dai Mar gave us a low-tech (whiteboard) talk about sharks, giving us the facts and figures and convincing anyone who needed it that they are to be treasured. Did you know that you're more likely to be choked to death by your window blind cord than eaten by a shark?

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