Confusion Ensues as Yacht Hits Whale

The crew of the 78-foot Donnybrook thought they were aground off Nova Scotia.

What does it feel like when your yacht collides with a whale? A lot like a sudden grounding, according to the crew of the 78-foot sailing yacht Donnybrook, which hit one of the mammoth mammals this month off the coast of Nova Scotia.

The Donnybrook was taking part in the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race, cruising at 12 knots in the middle of the night. The impact with the whale tossed crew members from their bunks and left some hustling to prepare life rafts and check for hull damage, believing the yacht was taking on water.

“About the time that we were trying to figure out what happened, a whale’s tail, or fin, came up next to the boat and put its tail up in the air and flapped it a couple times and swam off,” skipper James Muldoon told CBC News in Nova Scotia.

The yacht's keel was cracked, and the crew found blubber attached to it. Even still, the Donnybrook went on to take second place in the more than 400-mile race.