And then I got back from Colorado and went the Key West Garrison Bight Mafia to Louisiana via New Orleans to fly fish for Bull Red Fish and rig heads for Triple Tail both of which I have never done and always wanted to do. More on that later. I have the Flu is it any wonder.
I wasn't going to necessarily make to back to Colorado for LL's 40 but then I spoke with Wildcat who is a wise old soul. "Ya know Christian... there are just some things you can never take back." I had a ticket to Denver within the next ten minutes.
Got a text from LL on my way to the airport at SFO. LL: "You coming back for the party?" CR: "? What Party?" LL: My Fortieth!" CR: Wouldn't miss it for the world Bro. I'm in a cab headed for SFO now. See you in 2 hours"
Amazing weekend with all my Boulder peeps and I really miss it. Solid advise Wildcat. Thanks. You can't take some things back.
I have a couple hundred photos of breaching whales but I chose this one. One that G took that is incredible with me free diving against a backdrop of a beautiful female humpback. But a hallmark of the trip as usual was liars dice (like headora de piratas, pirate horseshoes). I digress. With seventeen people playing and a hundred and some dice on the table it tends to get a bit aggressive. 22 sixes yo!
I stopped at day four. Guess I finally just got that South Pacific vibe centered and it is all well documented and it was simply one of the best adventures of my life. Thanks for reading. CHR
Down time and down time
We made some adjustments today as the weather and winds came up which made whale spotting a bit more difficult. A dive and some beach time on an island you can walk around in about 10 minutes surrounded by magnificent blue shades of the south pacific and banded sea snakes. Some much needed down time on the top deck as the entire tribe settles into the south pacific lifestyle properly.
Launch Sequence Initiated
We spent the morning of the third day searching on the Nai in bigger water in what is known as the playground with the hopes of encountering a heat run. A heat run is the description of several males pursuing a female with the hopes of impressing her and dominating the other males by bumping them holding them underwater so they cannot breath and just generally scrap for the right to mate. We were lucky to come across a group of five whales. Big males and a female in a full blown heat run. The males going off. Dozens of breachs and it sounded like a press conference on the bow of the Nai as we all snapped rapid fire style at all of the breaching and generally madness of the experience that is a heat run. We were able to follow this group for nearly four hours and while different than the mother calf experience in so many ways this was an incredible example of humpback behavior and one none of us will forget.
The tribe began to try to settle into the Nai as we had all had extremely long trips to get here, little sleep, and the draining and beautiful intensity of our initial encounters. Books on the top deck and naps in order the whales had other plans. Directly in front of the Nai a mother and her calf and the staff had a little trouble rallying anyone to get in the boats again pronto. I decided to rally with only the captain and Nora our guide to go and try to locate the two as the away team. We slid into the water and began to search the bottom in passes and quickly found the large female sitting quietly on the bottom in 60 feet of water. Barely visible with the white on the front of her pectoral fins being the only feature revealing her and her calf to us. We sat quietly at the surface slowly the baby moved further and further away and up from its mother and eventually swam to within ten feet directly below me and stopped to take a look. Once comfortable and in seconds the calf swam directly toward me and made a sweeping pass directly in front of my field of vision within a few feet coming to the surface to breath. As time passed more of the group joined and were able to experience this playful calfs tail slaps, pec flaps and generally continually racing through the entire group notching what Nora described as the best experiences of the entire season. Is it only day two?
We spotted tons whales early in the morning with many mothers and calfs included. We got into the pangas to follow a group that was close to the reef. A mother, calf, and escort we logging in about sixty feet over the reef. Seriously this has been a dream of mine for like ever. Whales…. On a reef. Really! We spent the next several hours with this group in 40 to 60 feet of water with numerous flybys from the group of whales coming within arms length on literally dozens of passes. The escort seemed to become increasingly aggressive and began coming towards us as increasing speeds and coming closer and closer each pass and now each pass was requiring an amount of backpedalling in order to sufficiently stay out of the way of the escort who had clearly had enough. Flicks of the pec fin and the increasingly intense nature of the passes and the better part of judgment told us it was time to leave this group. But not until one last pass of the group directly under the pangas and on to nearly jettison a one Graham Casden nearly out of the water. Time to go! Check please. All in all for the amount of time we have spent up until we all felt that you couldn’t have written it down any better. These had been truly amazing and exceptional encounters even by the guides perspective and yes…. This is only day two…. The morning session. Amazing!
As we all sat and shared stories of the morning’s encounters on the Nai someone spotted a fluke out of the water. White and glistening in the sun a female was resting in this position with her calf. We entered the pangas quickly and slid into the water as quietly as possible. The calf was lying quietly beneath it’s mothers pectoral fin. The calf slowly became curious and began to check us out and swim in amougst us in extremely close fashion. This was a truly magical experience. The mother was extremely tolerant and we had our first opportunity to free dive proper. We took turns over an hour and a half diving down and taking photos and doing exactly what we came all the way to the Republic of Tonga to do. Brilliant.