Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sea Monsters - Fact or Fiction

I remember my first off shore race. Fresh out of Sailing school, with my skipper ticket in hand, I boarded a Bavaria 36 for the Mikonos Off Shore Regatta. Foul Weather gear and all the gadgets a young student could afford. The race there was uneventful with 0 wind. 90% of the fleet hoisting the iron sail and the old diesels purred up the coast to Mykonos. at 8pm the evening we entered the Harbor and looked for our mooring.

The next days bay racing was a different story, winds up to 35knts. Exhausted but still in good spirit the crew and skipper decided to head out to sea as the sun started to set over the horizon. We wanted to anchor at Dassen Island for the evening, only 20 miles away. As we rounded Jutten island the fog set in and so the ocean was starting to play tricks on us.

We were motoring in 35 m of water, 2miles form the coast line. Suddenly the echo sounder's alarm sounded, depth from keel to ocean floor read 2m. Skipper and crew alike started to question the instruments and their own knowledge of the ocean. Out popped a school of Dolphins at the bow and the echo alarm stopped.

Weird how ones mind starts to play tricks on you as the fog rolls in and night creeps nearer. With visibility down to zero, so did our speed. We were doing 3knts, crawling slowly towards the Island and a safe anchorage. In the fog eerie sounds seem to come from nowhere as you can hear whispers on the wind, yachts and trawlers a like sound their fog horns and somewhere in the distance a scream.

That scream was from our own bow. I think it sounded like TORPEDO! But that cant be, we aren't in hostile waters. I make my way to the bow only to see green streaks in the sea darting for our bow. Just as we brace ourselves for impact out jumps a friendly illuminant dolphin covered in phosphor. One of the most remarkable things I've ever seen. They were darting to our bow and jumping for 20 min before we entered house bay at Dassen Island, our anchorage. Relieved and exhausted 1am in the morning the entire crew stood at the stern and wrote their name on the phospor coverd sea.

Out came the bottle of sherry and tales of sea monsters and torpedoes.

Do sea monsters exist, our is it just a bottle of sherry and our imagination?


JP said...

Great story.

Remember when doing the Fastnet couple years ago we had not much wind across the Celtic sea but LOTS and LOTS of dolphins. Then some fog rolled in before the wind eventually filled in just in time for us to go round the rock itself.

Fog isn't much fun in a small boat.

Smilicus said...

We were fresh out of sailing school. We entered the bay in thick fog, foul ground on both sides of us. Going at 1knt to be safe. We didn't know that the Navman and GPS would not be able to give a electronic compass reading at that speed. We sat with three different headings according to the instruments. So we trusted the old fashioned compass...needless to say we got there safely, but stressed out.