Friday, October 20, 2006

White Water Whale Watching...

The weather's been pretty shocking since we've been here (overcast, grey and generally chilly) so when I awoke yesterday morning to blue sky, the occasional white fluffy cloud and a cool breeze, I thought 'what better day to go seeking whales'. On the walk over the Darling Harbour Bridge I wished I'd put on my shorts rather than my jeans, it was baking - I felt silly for carrying not only a cardigan, but a jacket too (just light) and was grateful for the suntan lotion I'd sprayed around everywhere!

We bought our tickets and boarded the boat, we sat right on the top deck (of 3) and set off for stop 2 at Circular Quay, waited for people to board there too and once we were all sandwiched in (pretty full trip) off we set. The minute we turned the corner form C/Quay round towards Rose Bay the wind picked up, enough for me to put my cardi on. Within about 30 seconds the sun had disappeared, the clouds turned from fluffy white to dark grey and the 'gentle breeze' turned into a full on gale (another 'waste of hair product, time & effort' day!) and I then put my coat on and buttoned it up (fully!) colar turned up and everything.

We headed in the direction of Manley and then cut out to the ocean, heading into the waves & into the wind it got a little choppy, but all was well. One of the deck hands climbed up the mast (there must be health & safety issues about this!) to search the waves for whales, but after about 1.5kms out there was no sight, so we turned right and headed down the coast towards Bondi, once we'd turned the wind dropped right off and as we were going with and not against the current, the roll evened out too, so it was relatively easy to walk around and assist ourselves in the search. Just as we were about to head a little further out, a sighting was made. A mother & baby were 'blowing' up ahead. Once they've blown they then have 'down time' which can be anything up to 30mins, but the infants can only do this for about 5mins, so we didn't have long to wait until they came up again, but they obviously don't come up in the same spot so the hunt was on! The boats are allowed to get within 100mtrs (Dad, that'll be circa 300 feet) of the adults, but when with calves it's 200mtrs. We followed them around for a while trying to ascertain which direction they were going in & at one point the calf popped up right by the side of the boat & then appeared to go underneath us. Now this is obviously closer than we're permitted, but all it means is the boat is not to move or attempt to follow them. Sadly we didn't get any breaching (full jump out of water), all we saw were the dorsal fins (as per the picture) and a couple of 'tail up dives' but not as pronounced as the picture here (due to the wave height probably!). Whilst we were all enthalled & trying to take pictures, the clouds were banking up behind us and then a weather report came through about the rain, so we headed further out to try to avoid it (it didn't work) - there was a mad dash for cover and it poured down, obviously the wind picked up too and that was me done .. I had to sit down and shut eyes (with the comfort of a little sick bag I'd taken off the crew - just incase!) fortunately all remained where is should, but we spotted no more whales either :-(

I would, without a doubt, do it again, but they are easier to spot in calmer waters (by all accounts!) and obviously it makes for a slightly more relaxing trip! The thing to see is the breach - I know it's all luck of the draw, but how amazing would that be to see 'in the flesh'...?

We came back to the apartment, had a quick shower & rearranged 'mad hair' and then we went to dinner with Rob's friends sister & husband and had a super Vietnamesse meal (my first time - quite yummy) I even tried a little bit of Emu (don't all faint) it was very dark meat (and in veg & sauce), quite strong taste but I couldn't say of what.... well, Emu probably!!

The weather so far today is still grotty (but dry) - Rob's now back home and I'll be off tomorrow :-) off to the Maritime Museum this afternoon as Chris wants to go on the submarine and then for a little retails therapy, although I've no room in my lugguage, so it'll be window shopping only for me.

Final trauma - all the leads we got for the Exhibition (400 dead) were on a scanner, which we then handed in to be downloaded, we were told we'd be able to access the information on a website as they'd provide us with a password and login - got all the info and had a quick look this morning, to be met by less than 200 details ... have shot off a bit of a frantic email to their technical department to find out what's going on and shall await their response. I will not be a happy girlie if it's not retrievable - but we shall wait and see..... This goes no way to convince me that there is anything better than a physical print out!

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