Dispatches from the Atlantic: Halfway Day

Associate Editor Chris White checks in with another update as he crosses the Atlantic.

Transatlantic, baby!

Ben spots whales from the bow.

November 30, 2009 20°01.824N 38°06.574W Boat Speed: 7.5 knots Wind Speed: 28-22 knots Magnetic Direction: 245° Distance Traveled Thus Far: 1,437.2 nautical miles

At around 0930 hours this morning, after less than eight days on the water, Snark had traveled 1,409 nautical miles, and with that, we are now officially over half way to St. Lucia. In a celebration of our accomplishment, Mother Nature decided to make the day a little special for us. As I sat behind the wheel during my 0400-0800 watch, I was greeted with a breathtaking sunrise. The clouds glowed pink as the sun crested over the horizon to our stern, the seas abated mildly (though only for a few hours) and the wind dropped from the 22-25 knots with gusts up to 27 knots, to a manageable 17-19 knots, as if it was settling down just for us, while Ben and I ate our breakfast and had some tea. It was, for a moment, very serene.

Not much later, perhaps also in celebration of our accomplishment, the seas came alive. I was sitting on the port deck, resting my knees against the stanchions and reading my book in the sun, when Dugald shouted "Whales!" Ben ran up from below deck, and we all grabbed our cameras and scoured the seas. I ran to the bow. The sun was brilliant overhead and the sea was a bright blue. I looked for the whales but saw nothing, afraid for a moment that I had missed them. Then, as I peered into the water, I saw a mass of gray against the blue. It grew larger and larger, it's color and shape becoming more defined. Suddenly the whale crested, its small dorsal fin splitting the top of the waves. I looked and there was another, a smooth gray mass shooting through the water, turning and playing, its white underbelly almost glowing against the cobalt sea. It was beautiful. For nearly an hour, whales swam and spun all around us beneath the waves, cresting then diving. Flying fish spurted out of the water to our port and starboard, dozens and dozens of them, bursting through the sea like small squadrons of fighter planes. One, the most talented I've seen so far, shot out of the water, came about a yard from the bow where Ben and I were standing, banked in the wind like a stunt plane, and shot back into the water. The sea had come alive to welcome us to our halfway mark. It was a joyous occasion.

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