I believe the world stopped turning for a milisecond only 3 times since God made it: 1)When Jesus died; 2) Sept 11, 2001; and 3) on July 1, 2010 at 11:07a.m. somewhere off of Latouche/Montague Island. I wasn't there for the first time. I remembered the second time. And definitely felt it on the third.
The day started like any other "normal" fishing day. We had scrapped our plans to go out fishing from Seward and instead headed to PWS on Thursday, 7-1-10 to beat the traffic that would start to head out for the 4th of July weekend. Had a smooth launch from Whittier (best one ever - not many boaters yet) and headed down to Port Nellie Juan to spend the night.
Next morning, checked the shrimp pots (5 gallons/8 hour soak), and headed down south. Ten million commercial boaters were out, so we carefully picked our way through them as we avoided the gauntlet of nets that were out. Finally made it through, and enjoyed the rest of the travel until we approached Latouche Island.
Noticed there were some whales in the distance as we saw their blowholes spouting off. How nice. Then all of a sudden, right beside me, on MY side, a hugh black shape materializes out of the water. (When I mean right beside me, I mean I could slid open my window, and whisper in the whale's ear.... "How was Hawaii this past winter?"..."Are you getting enough to eat?".... "My, how cold & smooth your skin feels" kinda close)....Now I will say I'm not proud of my reaction. It's not a reation a co-pilot should have. But I found myself screaming "OH SH*T" and leaping out of my co-pilot's chair and shoving over to the hubby's captain's chair. He sees the humpback whale apparently at the same moment I do & joggles the boat from HARD starboard to HARD port so we don't go over it with the motors. This is where the world STOPPED turning for a milisecond. I hold my breath & then we heard it ....."KER-THUNK". Ugh! I could just see it now... making a "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday - Going down, taken out by a humpback whale" call.
The first few seconds after the impact, multiple questions go through my mind - "Is it ok?", "Are we ok?", "Are the motors ok?", "Is there a hole in the boat?" .... We both couldn't stop shaking. In retrospect, we believe his tail hit the side of the boat when we threw it hard right. The motors didn't hesitate as if they had hit an object. Darn close call. Too close.....
After settling ourselves down mentally & physically (I'm proud to say neither of us "messed" our pants!), we arrived at our fishing place. Killed the motors, drifted, and started to fish. Probably was 100 feet away from the island, 80 feet of water. Then a humpback whale surfaces again - between us & the island. WTH! We felt we were now being targeted & they were gunning for us. But at least if they disabled us, we could make it to shore.
No other incident transpired between us & them, but for the grace of God, if that whale had popped up directly in front of us that close, or 6 inches farther to the left of us, or a lot bigger, the outcome would have been a lot worse.
We tried to find out what/who needs to be informed of the above incident, but per Fish & Game (they were on the dock as we came in) & Coast Guard Auxillary, unless there is extensive damage (no damage that we could see - not even a dent), there wasn't a report to be made.
I have discovered three things about this situation:
1) Jesus is the true co-pilot - I suck at it.
2) You can die out there in a split second
3) Whales don't have your best intentions in mind.
Oh, and the funny thing is .... our boat name has a whale's picture in it