Full moon and whales

I remember the previous full moon very clearly. we had been at sea for just under two weeks and were in the thick of it with howling winds and enormous waves there was the constant risk of capsizing, as Jamie and I battled to keep the boat riding straight down the waves rather than rowing really. The moon actually was a saving grace as it gave us some time to see the direction these brutes were attacking from.

however the full moon of two nights ago couldn’t have exhibited a more contrasting sea scape, and couldn’t have evoked such a different set of emotions for me. It was completely still with only the gentle lull of water hitting the side of the boat, and the rhythmic hypnotic splash of the oars. On my first of three night shifts there were some huge clouds that appeared silver and black in the moonlight, i was having a great time making sense of the shapes. i saw the dude from angry birds, darth vader, a cabbage, a fat rabbit with fangs, the big dinosaur with the massive tail thingy, my chuddley baratheon, and some other weirder ones that are not suitable for blogging about!

the next shift I will remember until I die. When Jamie woke me up he said there were wales around. earlier that day he had seen the back and tail of one and I had been dissapointed not to glimpse it. I got up quickly, hopeful but also ready for the likely event that they would have gone. I have now seen three sharks but only one of those encounters lasted more than a couple of seconds; far too short to get the camera out. It was quite cloudy when i first got on the oars, and there was silence. I said oh well to myself, i’m sure there will be another chance. Then I heard a loud pffff as the water broke to my left, I wasn’t sure if it was a wave or a whale, but after a few more I was sure it was the latter. I still couldn’t see though, the clouds were blocking the moonlight. These pfffss continued all around the boat periodically, I thought i had seen one, but couldn’t be sure. The clouds finally parted and too my left only about 2 meters from the boat i saw the animals whole body, glinting black in the shiny sea. At this point i pretty much squealed and watched the whale swim under the boat, I could only make out the white patch moving serenely but it was him alright. For the next half our the whale or whales continued to swim with the boat, i could hear them, and had a few more sighting at farther distances.

I feel unbelievably lucky and privileged to have had this experience. I have always loved sea creatures but since watching two brilliant documentaries which I think everyone must see called ‘the cove’ and ‘blackfish’ my adoration for whales and cetaceans deepened I wont go into the details but they are remarkably intelligent, and especially on an emotional level. Why would they stay with the boat for so long. Its not that they think its another whale, and sharks couldn’t care less about the boat, I got the feeling that they knew we as fellow mammals were on it and it was such a special experience for me, there will never be any videos or photos since it was so dark, but what I seen has been etched into my memory and I hope the clarity will last forever.

The full cycle of the moon brought a sense of circularity to the trip. now we have under two weeks to go hopefully, and I can only pray that the reward of calm seas and favourable winds that this moon brought will endure,
thank you for all the messages of support, I have never felt really alone out here, and its more that i could have ever dreamed of. I cant wait to be back to see everybody!


Submit a Comment
  • Reply


    7 months ago

    Wow, poetry in motion beyond amazing and what a huge achievement for the youngest team already!

  • Reply

    Angela Feather

    7 months ago

    What an amazing pair you are..I love reading your blogs and am in awe and full of emotion at all you have achieved. I can’t imagine how proud your families must be and how excited they must be to meet you in Antigua. I can’t find the words to express how fantastic I think you both are. Cant wait to read the book of your journey either!! Lots of luck for the rest of the race but in my eyes you’ve won at any rate. Very best wishes and love Angela (Feather). .

  • Reply

    James O'Brien

    7 months ago

    Fantastic effort, guys. Luke, your tutor is very proud of you!

  • Reply

    Charlotte Tyrwhitt

    7 months ago

    “Hark, now hear the sailors cry,
    smell the sea, and feel the sky
    let your soul & spirit fly”
    (Van Morrison)

    Come on Boys, so nearly there. We have been following you every stroke of the way.
    Very best wishes
    Charlotte and Reggie Tyrwhitt

  • Reply

    Charles Gibson

    7 months ago

    What an awesome achievement. Incredible guts, courage and determination. And what a massive sum you have deservedly raised. Enjoy your success.

Submit a CommentPlease be polite. We appreciate that.

Your Comment