The Race For Water catamaran, which is continuing to make headway along the Peruvian coastline towards Lima, is regularly accompanied by cetaceans and seabirds to the great delight of the crew, who never grow weary of the spectacle!
The cold Humboldt Current is no legend! It is born to the west of Cape Horn, feeds on the Antarctic ice and climbs up the coast of South America, in other words as far as Ecuador. We still doubted that fact yesterday, but that certainly isn’t the case today. Last night, during my watch, I caught myself going to my cabin to hunt out my mountain jacket, which I fortunately brought with me to catch my plane in the Parisian chill… The wind was blowing from the south in fact, straight up from the ice floe on this side of the hemisphere.
In the morning, the ocean took on a cold, greenish hue contrasting with the dazzling blue of the tradewind seas. We were just enjoying a coffee on the bridge, when a baleen whale came and arched its back in front of our bows, prompting Annabelle to kill our engines instinctively. You never know with playful cetaceans, who sometimes enjoy playing at Moby Dick remakes. This turned out to be a prelude to an incredible day for marine zoology. This vein of cold current, which we’re slowly making our way along, proved to be a refuge for countless invisible fish being chased by pods of dolphins, porpoises and finally seals. Scoops of pelicans appeared over the horizon in tight squadron formation, skimming over the waves and then making aggressive, vertiginous drops into the shoals of small fry, which scattered in every direction in their bid to avoid falling prey to the sharp beaks of the black cormorants and the agile frigate birds. In the distance, a gam of dark and seemingly imperturbable pilot whales with pointed fins were bound for some improbable encounters. Meantime, contrary to yesterday’s industrial activity, the ribbon of Peruvian coastline unfurled eastwards down long, deserted beaches of very white sand at the foot of arid cliffs. In this way, banks of mist rose up from the sea, blurring the atmosphere. We were delighted by the showstopping spectacle, watching the acrobatics and the pranks of this marine fauna from atop the bridge of our solar vessel, whose furtive passage seemed to intrigue rather than unsettle them.
In the evening, beneath the stars once more, happy, I reflected on how amazingly lucky we’d been to enjoy such moments of peace and silent beauty, far, so far away from the anguish of the modern world of landlubbers.
ANNE LE CHANTOUX
“During my watch, I was treated to a fantastic sight. I looked away into the distance and I could see splashing in every direction. At first glance, I thought I could see whales exhaling air but there were too many and it was happening too frequently. Next, I saw ‘things’ leaping out of the water and thought about swordfish. In actual fact, I was being treated to a visit from a school of dolphins in transit. There were at least a hundred or so, if not more. They didn’t dally to play with the boat, simply continuing on their way. We saw them jumping (some very high) and dropping back down with their full force making big belly flops!
For almost an hour and a half, they were but 200m from the boat, heading in the same direction as us.
But that’s not all, I could also see air being expelled in the distance with 3 or 4 instances of this reaching a certain height. They were whales.
They were a bit far out but easily identifiable with binoculars!
Then came the apotheosis… in the foreground dolphins, behind them whales and behind these, are you ready for this, oil rigs, like mushrooms! The backdrop for all this was the Peruvian coastline snaking into the distance.
A magical sight.”