Saturday morning I headed out on my waverunner. Wasn't exactly sure where I was going, which is usually the case. Once out of the harbor I decided to head toward the north end of Anacappa Island. Its a great direction for dolphins and from there I can easily head over to Santa Cruz Island as well.
The fog was very thick so I could only see about a mile in each direction. This might sound like a lot but believe me when you are 10 miles offshore and everything is fogged in and you can only see a mile in each direction, its doesn't feel like you can see very far. Especially when you consider the Freight Tanker lanes
Just about 10 miles offshore are also Freight Tanker lanes. These tankers are several hundred feed long, with several hundred to a few thousand freight containers on them. They cruise along at about 25-30 m.p.h. so they are hauling pretty fast. The throw off about a 5 ft wake if you are anywhere close to them.
As the visibility was poor I was on the lookout for the tankers. That day the ocean was pretty flat so I figured if I could just keep an eye out in both directions and I would see one before it was too late.
Then in the distance about 1 mile out, as far as I could see, I saw a swell, about 4-5 feet tall (again the ocean was flat so this stood out). I assumed at first it was the wake of a tanker that had gone by so I continued to approach the swell although slowly. Then as I got a little close to the swell, out of nowhere it seemed to get bigger and parts of it even began to crest and break which doesn't normally happen on a calm day. I generally feel very comfortable out there in the ocean and know what things feel like but this felt wrong so I turned away.
No sooner than turning away I decided I needed to find out what this wave was. Maybe it was a rogue wave? Maybe just a random swell? Maybe the wake from a tanker? I really didn't know and I needed to know!
I turned back towards the wave and headed into it slowly and very cautiously. As I became closer to it I tried to judge how big it was as from the distance it was hard to tell for sure. It seemed to be about 5 feet and not getting bigger so I felt more comfortable as it at least seemed stable in size. Then when I was about 100 feet away from it, seemingly out of nowhere, a massive Whale jumped completely out of the water and breached right in front of me. I was in awe. It must have been about 30 feet long. It came completely out of the water, its entire body. And when it landed it created a massive splash.
I followed the whale for about 20 minutes as it continued to move up the coast and breach about every 3-4 minutes. As fate would have it I did not bring my camera that day but I did have my crappy camcorder built in to my crappy treo 700. I was able to catch this crappy video of the whale once it was a bit further away from me but its footage nonetheless. Proof at least as good as the fuzzy Sasquatch photo :-)
As I followed the whale it disappeared beneath the surface after about 10-15 minutes. I realized the 5 foot swell was not actually from the breaching, it seemed to be caused as the whale swam quickly just beneath the surface of the water displacing massive amount of water as it moved, and thus causing the swells. It was a great experience and one I will never forget. And yes there was a moment or two there where I was concerned about just exactly where the whale was going to come up next if you know what I mean.