Most Amazing: Whale and Dolphin Sightings

10 October 2008 By Kate Hubert

What's the most amazing thing you've ever seen from a yacht?'s Kate Hubert asked captains and crew this question and the vast majority -- more than three-quarters -- mentioned cetacean sightings. That’s whales and dolphins in all their gorgeous, curvaceous beauty.

With such an overwhelming response, a Hot Topic was inevitable. Here's Kate with the rest of the story:


Perhaps it’s because they look back at you with intelligent eyes and we recognize their playful nature. Whatever the reason, it takes a hard heart not to smile when a dolphin or whale is spotted.

Capt. Ugo Polleschi sums up his own childish delight at encountering these creatures as sea: “I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things, but I remember when I was crossing the Indian Ocean at dawn, on the left side of the boat was a killer whale. Amazing! I felt like a kid. I can't explain the feeling and sensation.”

Even seasoned delivery crew can be reduced to kids-on-Christmas-morning levels of excitement by a yell of “there she blows!”

Capt. Steven Naimoli reminds us all why two days at sea are never the same.

“One of our favorite ports of call is Samana, Dominican Republic,” he says. "There are quite a few whale excursion boats based there. Unfortunately, we did not see any whales…However we picked up another yacht going back to Fort Lauderdale. Naturally, we stopped in Samana. Much to our delight, we saw at least four whales while transiting the bay.

“Of course there were several false alarms,” he continues. “Shouts of 'Look - a whale!' but here was no whale but in our frenzied state of mind. However, within a very short time the spouts were clearly visible and no one was more excited than us.”

Just like us big kids, dolphins seem to share our love of watersports -- sometimes it’s almost as if they’re putting on a show for our entertainment.

“We were crossing from the Florida Keys to Texas last year,” says Capt. Dave Cochrane. “We cruised past a school of dolphin, which in itself is no big deal. They charged us, cruised under the bow and jumped our wake...The really cool thing was after we had passed through them I turned around to look aft: they were all jumping straight up out of the water over and over. There must have been fifteen or twenty dolphin IN THE AIR at the same time!!!”

But for pure jaw-dropping awe, we have to turn to the dolphins’ very big cousins: the whales. On delivery the crew are usually on a mission to complete the trip as efficiently as possible, but just like an Englishman at tea time, everything stops for whales.

Capt. Andrew Clelland knows the feeling: “During a delivery between Sydney and Brisbane we came across a pod of seven whales making their way north. We slowed the vessel down to five knots to stay with them, and they calmly stayed with us for around forty-five minutes, cruising alongside sometimes only a boat length away. It was simply a magical experience.”

And every once in a while, the sea will offer us the kind of sight that stays etched in the memory forever, something so perfect and beautiful it explains why we put up with storms, rough seas, and exhaustion for a life on the ocean wave.

“I have seen many beautiful, amazing and awe-inspiring sights while running boats, but nothing that compares to one incident in 1992,” says Capt. Todd Nelson. “We were traveling from Antigua to St. Kitts. A humpback whale jumped clear out of the water right in front of us. It was the most amazing thing ever. The whale was directly up-sun from us. The spray coming off the whale was sparkling and rainbow like. The droplets looked like small crystals from a chandelier, shimmering and shining. Just seeing a seventy-foot-long whale completely out of the water was unbelievable, but with the sun directly behind it, the visual enhancement is almost too unreal to explain.

“It would have been a two million dollar photograph if I only had one handy,” Nelson continues. “The splash when the whale hit the water was huge and beautiful as well. It took less than a minute for us to travel to where the whale splashed down and there were still bubbles coming up.”

So, what's the most amazing thing you've ever seen from a yacht? Do you have your own whale and dolphin stories to share or something even more remarkable? Leave your comments below.