Thar she blows!

And there and there.  And over there.  And right here!   “Hard right to port!”  Whew, that was close!

As the spout of one whale dissipates, another blows.
As the spout of one whale dissipates, another blows.

We’ve just left our anchorage in Snug Cove and are heading out into open waters. At the southern end of Stephens Passage where it meets the Frederick Sound we are on a course between the Brothers Islands on the west and the Five Fingers on the west.

Suddenly there are humpbacks everywhere.

Some of them are laying low in the water, dark black logs that snort and spout.  Others are diving.  Some revealing only their great humps.  Others engage in artful ballet, thrusting their flukes high in the air, displaying the white patches that mark them as individuals.   Logs, humps or flukes – all are a match for a our boat.  And they represent only the parts of the body above the surface.


Splash!   A whale has breeched, launching its entire body out of the water.  Then another. Fortunately they are in the distance.

We’re all eyes are on lookout.  There is no need for binoculars; you can’t miss them.  Holding a camera in front of your face is risky.  And counter productive for the ones that are too close.


Our job is to determine the direction in which they are moving so we don’t cross in front of them.  There’s no group feeding using bubble tactics today.  No this seems to be dozens and dozens of individuals moving in different directions.  We move in circles.

Tail. Coming toward us. Shadows are Aurora’s lines and shrouds.

At one point we’re caught between a group on port and another on starboard.  Straight ahead is a sleeping whale.  We inch by his stern, just as he wakes up.  (I say he, because that’s what we suspect.  Moms with calves are elsewhere today.)

Should have known this would be a day for wildlife.  We awoke to a grizzly grazing on the grass on our beach.  A pair of dolphins accompanied us out of snug cover while seals turned their heads, watching with great black eyes.  In the four hours it takes up to transit the intersection of Stephens, Sumner and get well into Frederick Sound, we have to find our ways through three large congregations of  humpbacks.  Fortunately, they do not seem very interested in us.  We’re just there in the mix with them.

And the white tail markings show.
In, so the white tail markings show.



Author: Carol McCreary

10 Inside Passages to Alaska. 10,000 miles. 10,000 hours on the S/V Aurora. This is the story of how Jack and I took up sailing late in life and are now finally getting the hang of it.

One thought on “Thar she blows!”

  1. This is the entry Cruz told me about. I’ve never imagined humpbacks as a nuisance! Only on a boat, and only in Alaska. So many amazing (and sometimes frightening) things in Alaska. Sail safely; wish I could have met up with you in the great sunshiny North!

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