Friday, April 29, 2011

It’s been a while since I posted. Took a trip back to The States to honor my daughter Kersti’s birthday. Great time had by all. Kersti has a way of bringing the family together and then treating us to her and husband Bill’s hospitality. It was truly a wonderful day and evening, thanks kiddo.

Kersti Marie Kaldveer, age 1 day, April 23rd, 1969

Kersti Evans, just the other day taking a break in Las Vegas

Talking with Kersti's first cousin Jimmy & wife at the party, more pics to come later

Went out on my first full day back, 27th, and met up with a mother & calf while in my kayak…very cool!! Tried real hard to get close but too far away.

Went out with Vicente on the 28th, yesterday, and got three more IDs, all three moving north which was a surprise but picked up two of them again later going south. No really good fluke shots, but good comparisons. Vicente dropped me off in perfect position to swim with the mom & calf (#’s 41 & 42) but they dove just before getting to me and the water was again not clear enough for me to see them. Vicente said they passed right underneath me, oh for Hawaiian clear waters!

HB# 41 11

HB# 43 11, check out the scarring on this guy, young but been doing some fighting or gotten entangled
Going out for the last time tomorrow if winds hold.

The following was written before I left on the 14th of April.

For a number of years now I have been attempting to intercept and have close encounters (get within 10”-20’) with the Humpbacks in my kayak as they are migrating through my area. Though I’ve had maybe 4 or 5 during that time it is the result of a large number of times out in my kayak, lots of patience and most often just good luck. I have been within 100’ many times but there is something real special about being right alongside one.

The other day, April 8th, I was paddling out to The WZ as usual and hoping for a sighting, maybe an encounter, when I saw what looked like a HB dorsal fin go under. I figured it was about ½ mile away and heading south. I was really not at all sure it was a whale but my instincts said it was. I chose an angle of intercept and a location where I thought it might resurface.

About 10 minutes later this whale came up literally 30’ away from me, to my right and a bit behind me. Couldn’t have been more perfect! I started paddling to stay with it and get a bit closer when I see that the whale is turning and coming to me. Before I could get in the water, I was really taken by surprise; it dove just before getting to me and without even a ripple, passed no more than 6’ underneath my kayak. The water was very clear right there so I saw it’s whole body glide past. Talk about cool, I had never had that happen before.

I thought about trying to meet it again but then I saw 2 more HBs coming towards me from the north and pretty much to the same spot. I waited and then saw them again but they had veered to the SE and passed about 60’ away. I chased them for a while but just couldn’t paddle fast enough.

Feeling good already I thought I would wait a little longer and see if I was going to be even luckier. Well, here comes another one. Again I calculate my intercept point and…yes, I’m right on it, the whale surfaces only 30’ away and like the other one this one turns toward me and glides underneath my kayak even closer than the first one. I thought for sure it was going to lift me right out of the water he was so close! Beautiful sight to see it’s whole body slip by and my kayak didn’t even move.

Two close encounters like that in one day is a totally new experience for me and I am stoked! I look north again because that’s where they should be coming from at this time of year (remember, I am in The Sea of Cortez) and damn, there’s a big splash from what I know is a breaching HB. This one is far away, maybe 2-3 miles, but I am sure coming my way. I’m in THE WHALE ZONE and they are here, hurrah! I put on my gear this time in anticipation of a swim with it. I wonder what gringos in passing fishing boats think when they see me out there where there is certainly no diving (I’m 2 miles out from the reef), yet sitting in my kayak, fins on my feet, mask on and red bandana over my head.
As I wait I continue to see it moving closer and I adjust my position accordingly. But wait, it’s not one, it’s two…no three and they are coming just a little to my right. I paddle to match their movement but then two of them fluke up about 100’ away and I know they are lost to me. I know there is a third and they were close, YES! here’s number three now on my left and only 30-40’ away. I start paddling to intercept and then this one TOO decides to take a look. This time I bail out of my kayak before it reaches me and I have the distinct pleasure of being no more than 10’ from it and right over it’s back. I swim with it for just a few seconds and it is gone into the depths.

By this time I’m a bit warn out and I still have a couple of miles to kayak in to the beach so I choose to go in. Best day I have EVER HAD in my kayak for encounters. PERSEVERANCE FURTHERS! Of course it doesn’t hurt to live 150 yds from The Sea and have all the time in the world to kayak (barring the wind). I am thankful to The Great Mystery and all The God/Goddesses who have blessed me.

I went out with Vicente the next day and got 5 more IDs so my season has not been that bad at all. 40 is a righteous number. Here is one of the recent ones (April 9th)

HB# 37 11

And here’s a pic of “Odin" and me (HB# 34 11, April 6th) just before I decided to go in. Courtesy of Ann Marie.

Glad to be back home in Shangri-La, carrying the love of my family with me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

On the 26th of March Alan Pomeroy invited me to dinner to have one of our “Dinners with Andre” series. He cooked a delicious shrimp linguini and suggested the topic of dreams, memory and sleep. I cannot even begin to describe how much I enjoy these times with Alan. The atmosphere is so very “ civilized” that I often feel transported into another dimension and the dialogue is so refreshing.

Went out to look for whales on the 29th and found 3. Good day but I was feeling a bit weak and that always both disappoints me and to some degree frightens me. It is my 70th year and all that but damn, I’m not ready to feel like this…..even occasionally! Yeah, I know…..surrender to the inevitable.

Mom & Calf

Good ID, HB# 14 11

Two dear friends from many years, Nancy & Janet

April first however I kayaked out to the whale zone, and though saw little, decided to do some laps in. I did 20 over the reef and then got cold but felt a certain delight in having done it at all.

Ah, but…..something wrong with my eye. Oh good, I have a cataract developing in my left eye. Surgery indicated……damn!!! OK, got to surrender to that now.

I am also suffering from the disappointment of a very, very light season on IDs……and then, I go out on the 4th of April and get 14 IDs, almost a record. Here are two of the better ones.

HB# 20 11

HB# 27 11

So I go out again on the 6th of April and conditions are exquisite. The Sea is like glass and there are whales about. Our third encounter is with a whale that is putting on a breaching exhibition.

We approach him/her to get a fluke shot and it gives us many, sort of like…..”hey, watch this, and now let me show you who I am” (a flukes up).

HB#1 08, HB#8 09, HB#34 11 "Odin"

Then I get this idea that I want to go in with this whale, it is like inviting me into the action. he is definitely calling me!

I suit up and Vicente tries his best to get me in good position but the best we can do is about 75 feet. I dive in and see him on the surface but can’t swim closer, he’s moving to fast. “He” did I say? Exactly, because when I get home and put the photos on my computer I recognize him right away….it’s “Odin”, the whale my son Zack adopted in 2008! This is the ONLY returnee whale I have gotten into my grid not only once but twice, AIN”T THAT A HOOT!

I am going out again Friday afternoon if the winds hold. Who knows what to expect, eh?