notes from the boat
Leaving Los Gatos where we'd spent a great last evening with John and
Barbara, we spotted a group of fins and so heading towards them (because
it's a boat and we can) we came across a pod of pilot whales! With great
excitement, we hailed John and Barbara on the radio and they rushed out in
their dinghy to join us.
For the next hour a group of inquisitive pilot whales played around us,
diving under the boat, circling the dinghy and providing us with one of the
most fabulous experiences of our summer in the Sea of Cortez. We took
hundreds of photos of them as they swam around us, literally feet away.
John and Barbara, in their collapsible Port-a-Boat were even closer, inches
away they could almost touch the whales who stayed tantalizingly out of
Spouting lazily in the morning sun, their odourous breath lingering, it
seemed like the perfect end to our adventures and the realization of a
long-time ambition, a close encounter with whales. Little did we know what
the rest of the day had in store!
The whales moved slowly north, we reluctantly turned south, waved farewell
to John and Barbara and started our day sail to San Evaristo.
Not long after, we had a strike on the fishing rod and Carl's greatest
fishing ambition was finally realised (see Part 23, How to Master a Marlin.)
The day became even more unbelievable as we then caught a dorado, a
behemoth measuring, 3 feet 11 inches, the largest we'd landed. We happily
tossed it back as it was far too big for us to eat and we could see its
mate wondering where it was going. Our policy being to throw back fish with
And as if that weren't enough for the day, we couldn't believe our eyes when
we saw another group of fins, these ones larger, moving quickly towards us.
We slowed the boat and before long were again surrounded by whales, this
time killer whales or orcas. The pod consisted of a very large male (we knew
this from the size and shape of his fin,) several females and probably,
young. The huge male kept his distance, for which we were grateful as we
didn't want to antagonize him, while several of the smaller members of the
pod came to check us out, literally, one rolling over on its side to get a
The world's largest predator had us surrounded, diving under the boat and
swimming like dolphins in the bow wave. It was unbelievable.
The difference between the two pods was interesting. The head of the pilot
whale is bulbous and reflects its placid behaviour, contrasting sharply
with the more angular and aggressive orca. The lack of camouflage as the
bold black and white markings flashed through the water reminded us that
this was one creature not to mess with.
The whales went on their way and we spent the night at San Evaristo, rising
at 6am the next day and heading back into La Paz. It was the perfect
conclusion to our summer in the Sea of Cortez.
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