Stories about adventure, travel, and living. Hope you enjoy.

A Whale of a Story

When I first moved to Florida, I had been sailing for a few years and decided that I was ready to really learn to sail. I bought a Hobie Cat. After spending a few outings learning to step the mast, rig the sails, and right the overturned craft, I was finally ready to go to sea.

The East Coast of Florida can be intimidating with its waves and surf. It was such a day when I sat sail in my small fourteen foot boat. The winds were strong enough to move the small boat with good speed, but the seas were rough enough that I had to take note and be careful. I had watched the morning forecast which called for good wind until the early afternoon and the fishing report mentioned migrating whales moving down the coast.

A break in the surf’s cycle allowed me to get the boat out into the open water. Once free of the surf, the sailing was great. There were no sounds other than the waves hitting the hull. In the wide ocean, I was on a small boat, and the only boat in sight. Throwing caution to the wind, I headed further away from the shore.

The boat scooted across the water as I tuned the sails to go faster and faster. Laying out I tried to balance the boat in the choppy water. It was one of the best days of my life. The Bahamas were just down the coast. Spain was on the same body of water as me. I had the complete freedom to sail where I wanted. There was no one around that could stop me or for that matter help me. I was alone in the warm relatively clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

The wind was almost a perfect speed. Strong enough to make navigating easy, but not so strong as to put the fear of capsizing in me. My neophyte sailing errors were forgivable. Then, the perfect breeze quit. I was miles from shore with only a paddle. The cool morning air was the blazing heat of the afternoon. I was positive the winds would shift to offshore but in the meantime it was only me and my fourteen foot boat bobbing in the ocean blue.

Strange thoughts ran through my head as I thought of the consequences of my being so far from shore with no wind in my sails. Soon I was positive that I was drifting further from shore, deeper into the abyss. Laying on the trampoline, I tried paddling. I could move the boat, but not efficiently. The graceful sailing craft had turned into an unruly barge.

My position was growing dire as the hours passed without a puff of breeze. I sang songs, talked to my self and tried to hide from the sun. While standing on the deck I looked forward. A big dark object seemed to be approaching. I sat down to contemplate what I had just seen. Baffled I stood and looked again. It was a good way off but seemed to be heading right toward me. Perhaps it was the shadow of a cloud or seaweed, no it was moving.

Suddenly it dawned on me, the morning fishing report noted whales were migrating down the coast. It had to be a whale. Nothing else could be that big. For a moment I thought how fun it would be to see a whale up close, but then decided sitting on a small sailboat adrift in the ocean, might not be the best viewpoint for whale watching. They could easily turn me over.

Frantically I lay on the deck and paddled as hard and quickly as possible. If I only had a harpoon. Praying for speed I paddled even harder, but the boat bobbed more than it moved. I paddled harder, I was not going to be capsized by a whale, if I could help it. I did not even know for sure if I could even right the boat. I would surely die in the briny deep.

Suddenly the boon swung to the side, I had wind. The wind had finally shifted and was now blowing off shore. I jumped to the stern and trimmed the sails as I grabbed the tiller and set the rudders toward shore.

As I built speed I finally had steerage. I was out to sea far enough that the buildings along the shore were undefinable. Forgetting the whale, I headed toward safety.

Minutes passed and I glimpsed in the whales direction. He was still coming.

I don’t know what came over me, but suddenly I changed direction and headed toward Moby Dick himself. Nervously I steered as I tried to decide whether to steer at the creature or steer off of him. Finally I decided I had to steer at him, even if they tipped me over, swallowed me, and spit be out on the beach, I had to face my nerves. Committed to my decision the boat drew closer to him. My impending doom was face to face, then suddenly....

Suddenly, I realized I was not steering at a great big fish, but instead millions of very small fish. The school of fish passed under my hulls as I glided along above them. Shaking my head I laughed and headed to shore. My Moby Dick turned out to be Minnie Minnows and a whale of a story.


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