Having a whale of a time

Sunday August 25, 2013

[From the trip East Coast Odyssey]

Overnight the wind and swell finally abated, and dawn saw us within sight of land near Mallacoota on the NSW/Victoria border.  This part of the coast lacks the amazing geology of Tasmania’s east coast or the sandstone cliffs of Sydney, but makes up for it with its picturesque hills and deep blue ocean.  With wind low we were always going to struggle to see many birds, but being closer to shore still managed to add Fluttering Shearwaters and a Brown Skua to our list of species seen.  The heroes today were the cetaceans.  While looking for a place to trawl for plastics we regularly came across Common Dolphins who were only too happy to play in our bow-wave.  In all we must have had nearly a hundred dolphins visit our boat during the course of the day.  As well as tagging along with the boat we observed them hunting fish by charging together into bait-balls, splashing wildly and sending fish flying.  The stars of the day however were the Humpback Whales.  We had several groups over the course of the afternoon, but none better than a group that came over to the boat to check us out.  We had seen them come up for breath a few hundred metres away and then suddenly they were underneath us.  The next half an hour was a magical experience, with up to three Humpbacks surfacing right by the boat, spyhopping next to us to look us in the eyes, and even going upside down underneath the boat to show us their underbelly.  We couldn’t believe our eyes, and everyone came away touched by the majesty of these wonderful animals.  Our day finished sailing gently into the sunset over Twofold Bay at Eden, a soft breeze blowing and a feeling of accomplishment at having successfully crossed the Bass Straight in a sailing boat.

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Written by

Chris