And the clement weather on the dreaded Bay of Biscay had other wonders in store.
The toilet in the forward head (that’s what you call a bathroom on a boat) had mysteriously become blocked (I do know the culprit but will not name there here). Given the calm weather it seemed a perfect time to fix this. Opa has lost his sense of smell so he volunteered to act as plumber and dismantle, clean and unclog and, honestly, we did not try to dissuade him. The rest of us sat gagging outside as he set to work and successfully cleared a very challenging plug. In one word, shitty. Once again we were extremely grateful to have Opa on board.
Normally a boat moves quite significantly when underway and we, as crew, learn to take care and compensate for the motion. Apparently we have too little experience of being becalmed as our level of care was lowered temporarily and a tiny motion caused Seb’s laptop to fly out of his hands and clatter with maximum force down the stairs. He’d just been downloading videos of our dolphin friends but the screen remained black, refusing to share them. Shitty again.
Just as we were settling into breathing through our noses again we saw a huge spout rising out of the water. Whales! We motored a little closer (keeping a safe and responsible distance), turned the motor off and watched 4 fin whales (I am quite sure that they were fin whales) slowly swimming arcs through the water, pausing to breath out their fishy plume at the top and gliding away again. It was so calm that every ripple was caused by them or by us. They were enormous, and extremely elegant for all their bulk. As they moved away we saw that they had left a little present to top of our shitty day.
A large, long, bright terracotta red cluster of fishy scented whale droppings floated on the surface. As curious, aspiring scientists we of course collected a sample to add to our collection of curiosities. It turns out that whale poop is an important ingredient in expensive perfumes. As exciting as it is to have in our collection, I personally was able to resist the desire to smear this goopy mulch onto my throat and wrists.