From the Editor
Surprise appearances by marine life are one of the great joys of sailing away from shore: a pod of porpoises playing in your bow wave is guaranteed to lift the mood of even the most jaded crew. It’s also humbling, a reminder that we are brief visitors to their world and always, always lucky to be there.
A whale sighting, meanwhile, is humbling on another level. Peter Nielsen’s gripping account of how a casual encounter with a sperm whale led to a mid-ocean abandonment and ship-to-ship rescue is a cautionary tale of their power (see page 52).
More extraordinary still are recent accounts of yachts apparently being attacked by a pod of orcas in the Bay of Biscay (page 12). Scientists are baffled as to why the whales are behaving in such an uncharacteristic way. For whatever reason, yachts are currently not welcome.
Whale strikes have long been cause for concern for round the world skippers – hitting a whale, sunfish, or other UFO is one of the most commonly cited reasons for abandoning races like the Vendée Globe.
Ahead of this November’s race several skippers, including Alex Thomson, have fitted ‘whale pingers’ to the keel bulb to alert cetaceans of the oncoming yacht’s presence. The key to being a good guest is not turning up unexpectedly and not outstaying your welcome. This is the marine equivalent of a loud door knock, warning of their arrival.