we found the whales

We found the whales the third day out of NYC, on the south edge of Stellwagen Bank. There was clearly upwelling with all the levels of a robust trophic web, and there were whale spouts in all directions. The whales present were largely Humpbacks (Megaptera novaeangliae, long winged New Englander) but we also saw Finbacks, Atlantic Whitesided Dolphins, and possibly one or two Right Whale spouts. Endless birds flocked to places the whales were chasing small fish to the surface, and if you watched the birds, you’d find whales quickly afterwards. I could not photograph the wahles – they are mostly in the water, they are far away, and they don’t look like much until they breach, which they don’t do very often. All my attempts look like very small clouds (spouts) or a dark blip in the waves that might b a fin.

We also managed to use every sail on the ship at one time or another (not all at once, they don’t all work together and some would interfere with others) on this leg. We set my favorite sail, the fisherman, which is the large weird trapezoid set high between the two masts. We took it down again later because the wind died and we didn’t want it flogging itself. Then when we were scudding downwind down Buzzards Bay we set all three square sails that hang from the yards across the ship (instead of the ones that run along the centerline). The bottom, largest one is called the course, the middle is the topsail (I think both of those are in one of the pictures) and then there is a weird little triangular one on top called the raffee that looks like a party hat. I am not at all used to square sails, and maneuvering them was tricky and took extra hands.

I’m home now, sunburned and cheerful. My world still feels like it is rocking gently, but I will be sleeping in a bed where I cannot touch the sides, and no one will wake me for watch. I may do a boat check, just to be sure the cellar has no extra water in it, but honestly I intend to sleep until noon tomorrow.

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