Whale Strike!! What if you HIT A WHALE with a Sail boat?    (Tips from the Pros #3/P. Childress #53)

Whale Strike!! What if you HIT A WHALE with a Sail boat? (Tips from the Pros #3/P. Childress #53)


hello I’m Patrick Childress this is
third in the series tips from the pros and in just a minute we’ll get with Hank
Schmitt from offshore passage opportunities and see how he dealt with
his whale strike the whale strike that you saw at the beginning of this video
happened to my wife Rebecca and I while we’re sailing on our sailboat Brickhouse
off the coast of Madagascar fortunately it was a small whale and it was a
glancing blow so I’m sure he went away and very well unharmed
there have been sea survival stories though about whales sinking sailboats and
two of those books happened in the Pacific west of Panama and those people
had to take to the life raft and spent months drifting around on the ocean
until they were rescued in one book definitely the whale was out to sink the
boat the other situation it’s questionable so it’s rare it seems like
but it does happen and whale strikes can be a problem the second time I’ve had a
Whale strike was when I was delivering a swan 48 from Bermuda to Rhode Island and
we were well out of the ocean deep water and into about 200 feet of water coming
up on the banks off the coast of Rhode Island and that’s when on this pleasant
day full main sail full jib were sailing along and all of a sudden the boat just
sort of lurched forward as though the keel was digging into a mud Bank and we
came to a stop sails were full you look over the side no water is moving past
the boat that was the strangest thing and then all of a sudden the boat
lurched again and the bow picked up and we started sailing and getting speed on
one croute happened to be watching behind the boat and did see a whale come
up and then disappear so these things do happen fortunately it isn’t always a
catastrophe like that sea survival stories but it is something to be
concerned about there is a possibility of maybe operating the stereo or running
some kind of acoustics to let whales know that you’re coming you think that
they have great senses but somehow sailboats do sneak up on them
so let’s get with Hank and see how he dealt with his whale encounter hello I’m
Hank Smith captain of the Swan 48 avocation we’re here in beautiful
Huntington Long Island but six weeks ago coming back from Bermuda we were in
between Bermuda closer to New Jersey and we actually had our first whale strike
at night we knew it was a whale because when we did hit we did fall forward but
it wasn’t like hitting a container or a log where you just stopped instantly and
after we got up took a look at by the time we said what was that I just looked
over my shoulder and there we saw the whale so of course whale strike first
thing you want to do is check and make sure you’re not taking any water on
checking keel vaults and through holes for your transducers so that’s something
we’ll do in a few minutes another thing that you might want to do is also check
underneath to see what the bottom looks like because as you’ll see we didn’t
have any damage down below but you still want to go down below and check and see
if there’s any damage to the keel or the forward part of the boat we were not
worried we knew we weren’t sinking we also want to go in the water and take a
look and while we’re doing that we’re also going to take a look at the bottom
of the boat but first we’ll go below and take a look where the keel boats are and
the transducers that you would want to take a look at first and we get on our
trusty tool to get our access we want to check our keel pulse transducers to get
anything out of the way on Salons we have the suction cup to open up the
floorboards to our through bolts right here or bilge pump we would see any
water that might be coming in from another compartment but as we can see of
course it’s dry here so that’s very good keel is nice and secure so your bilge
and your kill bolts right here you have access to the center of the boat your
kill bolts of course is what you attach your keel to so if you did have any
damage from hitting something you would see some cracking or some
looseness hopefully not any water ingress but everything certainly super
tight here no issues at all other places where you would look for ingress would
be the transducers for both your depth sounder and your speedo because they
protrude a little bit and certainly hitting a whale or any
object could open up a place for water to come in and then after that it might
be thruhulls that you check it well but the big thing is just to see if you
have any water coming back from any part of the boat so then you can get an idea
if water is coming in which direction after 250,000 miles we had our first
whale strike eventually things catch up to you so it was very still so very cold
up in New York so we waited till we returned to Bermuda to go ahead and
check of course we were very wondering what things look like below so we’re
gonna jump in the water and take a look and see see you at the bottom looks like Thank You Hank for all that great
information the two books that I referred to at the beginning of this
video are survive the savage sea which was published in 1973 about the
Robertson family spending 38 days in a dinghy after their boat was sunk by a
whale the other book is 117 days adrift about the ordeal of Maurice and Marilyn
Bailey after their boat was sunk and that book was published in 1974 of
course we have all seen whales that breach and accidentally come down on a
sailboat but can that really be intentional but even a simple collision
between a sailboat and a whale can certainly leave a boat very damaged
especially if it knocks out the rudder it does seem though that there’s an
increase of collisions between sailboats and whales and there’s two good possible
reasons for this one is whale conservation and the increased numbers
of whales but then too there is a big increase of cruising sailboats passing
through whale territory so why don’t whales just get out of the way whether a
ship or sailboat there is speculation that whales being the biggest thing in
the ocean they grow up never having to change course for anything they just
don’t know to move our collision with the young humpback whale at the
beginning of this video is a very good example of that that whale could have
easily avoided us but it chose not to that might have been a very good
learning experience for that young whale that not all large rounded things in the
ocean are as soft and friendly as mother that learning experience just might save
its life one day one would think that a whale should hear the approach of a
sailboat apparently it is a very noisy ocean down there and becoming more noisy
with the increase of ships fishing boats and all sorts of surface craft but also
military submarines maybe in some extremely noisy areas close to
civilization the whale might not hear the vessel coming however it could be well
worthwhile for a sail boat in whalel territory to create noise by playing the
stereo which can be heard through the hull
turn on the depth sounder especially one of the new Raymarine depth Sounders that
uses a sweep of frequencies not just the standard 50 or 200 kilohertz or even
turn on the engine a diesel engine is very noisy underwater when in whale
territory it would be good to slow down in some whale feeding areas ships are
restricted to a speed of no more than 10 knots many sail boats would be fortunate
to go that fast but the slower the better to give whales and the sailboat
more opportunity to avoid each other know before your sail if your boat will
be in a whale traffic area subscribe to Whale alerts for your particular area
unfortunately these are concentrated in the USA but ask Google for something like
whale tracking in South Africa should give you some information to be aware of
try to travel during the day so you can see whales on the surface better some
whale species spend a lot of time at night resting on the surface finally as
if that wasn’t bad enough in their migrations and search for food
many whales spend much of their lives and precisely those waters that are the
most dangerous for them often frequenting both commercial shipping
lanes and recreational hotspots taking the same route that migrating cruisers
follow so keep a good lookout make a lot of noise and try not to hit any whales
if this video is worthwhile for you please give it a thumbs up and if you
haven’t already click on the subscribe button that will be a big help and in
the video description there is a link to the tip jar if you don’t mind helping
out in that direction so thanks a lot for watching and we’ll see you soon you

29 thoughts on “Whale Strike!! What if you HIT A WHALE with a Sail boat? (Tips from the Pros #3/P. Childress #53)

  1. Please let us know in the comments below…we would like to know just how common whale strikes are on boats…
    Have you ever hit a whale on a boat? Could it have been avoided? Did it do any damage to your boat?

  2. Sexy stuff like Plumb bows and High aspect keels on 12 or 15 knot "cruising" boats don't help much when you plow into something in the middle of the night. However, you Could set a new record time in the 50 foot dash. So there's that, it's not all about the downside.

  3. Along the east coast of Australia it's normal to have multiple whale sightings per day in season. They're everywhere and collisions do occur. I've had a few near misses and even one Humpback that breached about 40 metres forward of our bow. That got my heart rate going.

  4. Never hit a whale, fortunately.
    Did see one breach just 3m from the port bow, somewhere just east of the Australian coast, near Brisbane.

  5. A 28-foot Bristol Channel Cutter was about 700 miles off the north-east coast of Japan on its way non-stop to California when it was apparently attacked by a whale. The crew noted the whale was not alone and was swimming with a baby. The boat sunk and crew was rescued by an amphibious airplane. The media in Japan had closely followed the story of this transpacific passage as one of the two crew was fully blind and the occasion marked the first time a blind Japanese national had attempted anything like this. I also owned and sailed a BCC at that time and followed the story with interest. I'd noticed that the support crew had painted a full-length image of an Orca below the waterline on both sides of the hull prior to departure. I've always wondered whether the purpose in doing this was to potentially scare whales away from the boat. However, the outcome may point to the reason why the whale, in a desire to protect its baby, attacked the boat.

  6. Olá, muito bom o vídeo pois esta era uma de minhas preocupações sobre a navegação. Não é simplesmente bonito ver baleias de um veleiro mas tem também uma grande parcela de preocupação.

  7. Alex Thompson is sailing right now and they struck an unknown object while going 25 knots, which caused them to loose the keel.  
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8hESXGlKys
    They are now sailing to the Cape Verde islands.

  8. Oh… the tone of her voice. I think someone needs to listen to Rebecca more often 😛 What's the point of having such an experienced captain at the helm if he can't steer around things?!

  9. No whale strikes, but we have had dolphins racing the boat and smack into the hull a bit off Baja. All we get on the Great Lakes is logs and carp.

  10. Nice video. Suggestion for a part 2 video: what do you do if you hit a whale and your boat is taking on water? crash mat, plugs for thru hulls and transducers, improvising and plugging cracks with towels/cloth, epoxy sticks/other materials, bilge pumps & buckets, etc.

  11. We were hit by a whale about three hours out of Isabela Island, Galapagos heading for Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia on our 32 foot sailboat at about 3 in the afternoon. We were slowly motor sailing, steering by hand when we first felt a bump, then a very hard hit from the side where we actually went sideways, then took a third hit on our port side when the fluke hit the side of the boat as the whale dove. The fluke broke a weld in our barbeque which was mounted on stern pulpit and got me wet hanging on the wheel with white knuckled grip. After I pried my hands off the wheel we checked for leakage and full rudder movement then carried on.

    Over a month later diving on the boat in Fatu Hiva to remove goose neck barnacles I had forgotten all about the whale and was puzzled to find a 1 foot strip of bottom paint missing on the port side of the encapsulated lead keel right down to the epoxy undercoat. We were very lucky the whale didn't hit us 10 feet further aft or our trip would have been over right there. The boat is a 1975 production Bristol we have had since new.

    Ray and Marilyn
    s/v Horizon

  12. I've had whales and whale sharks rub against the hull, but thankfully never struck one. I've hit a piece of wood approximately the size of a railroad tie, and that was scary enough. I think it would be a good idea to make a video about how to deal with hull punctures. In many cases the boat can be saved, but seconds count when water is rushing into the boat. The two stories you mentioned are incredible stories of survival at sea, but should never happen again thanks to the availability of EPIRB's. Does the Brickhouse crew have a plan to deal with hull punctures? Do you have an EPIRB or similar device? Thanks for making this informative mini series. I'm looking forward to the next video.

  13. Invited by a friend to a day sail out of Richards Bay on "Gedore" (Tosca 38) in November 1986 we jumped at the chance. A couple of hours later and our being out of sight of land, Hazel (then 7½ months pregnant and turning greener with every passing moment) was pleasantly distracted by the pair of humpbacks which had decided that tailgating us was a fun idea.

    Until one of them misjudged its following distance and the tailgating turned into a tailender…

    Well, Hazel went greener while the rest of us instantly turned a whiter shade of pale… Fortunately the humpbacks decided that they'd had their fun and overtook us, one to starboard and the other passing beneath. I swear the one to starboard gave me a wink.

    Hazel has not been on anything that floats since….She did forgive the mate who'd invited us, who became the Godfather of our daughter born 1½ months later (sadly RIP John Crossland)…

    My daughter (now 33) still refuses to eat any seafood…

  14. Playing music to alert whales to your presence may not quite have the desired effect.. Both Hugo 'The Sailing Frenchman' and Patrick Laine have found that electronic music compositions by the artist 'Rone' actually attracted whales to their boats.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4pjmmUUPlo
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaYSeJHrJlo&t=213

  15. Sound travels 4.3 times faster in water than air which makes it very difficult for a diver to tell which direction a power boat might be approaching from. I personally find that experience very anxiety producing when coming to the surface. If the boat is far away I can usually tell but the closer it get the greater the anxiety since it’d likely be moving faster than I can see to avoid. I don’t know what would work to avoid whales other than a watch on the bow in likely whale waters.

  16. When I was in the Coast Guard we hit a whale in the Gulf of Maine with our 82' steel hull patrol boat. It was keeping pace with us about 50 yards to starboard for several minutes, surfacing on a constant rhythm. All of a sudden it stopped surfacing and we didn't see it for several minutes…….then there was the bump from below! We stopped immediately and saw it surface on the port side and continue off in that direction apparently unharmed. It sure scared he napping captain in the cabin below!

  17. Hello Patrick and Hank! Another excellent video. I was reflecting on our trip to the Caribbean. That was a great trip indeed! The sleep deprivation I experienced made me miserable for sure but I believe I needed another 10 days to get my body adjusted. Me and my son did allot of coastal sailing this year. I can't wait to go again! Keep up the good work!

  18. An English couple coming from the caraibas to UK, hit a whale and only had time to throw the lifeguard and jump in, stayed three days, without food, water and communicase, by miracle were seen by a Portuguese aviation patrolling this area, asked for a freighter to divert the route and collect this couple, were saved, and, bought a sailboat in aluminio! but the biggest problem is containers, tree trunks, and abandoned sailboats! I leave this video of some beasts from Scandinavian who abandoned a swan nautor! this sailboat appeared 6 months later on the English coast!!! AHHHH, while rescuing these beasts from Scandinavian, a French sailboat sank (in total were Three to sink) were rescued by a Spanish fishing boat, but the Frenchman watched his six-year-old daughter die in her arms! The beasts of Scandinavian, not a scratch had! The video of the rescue of the beasts of Scandinavians: https://youtu.be/BROhwd3VMKs
    The state of the sailboat after six months when it went to give the coast of the UK:
    https://www.searchmagazine.se/artiklar/tbt-Övergivna-swan-44-an-kolibri-på-drift-i-sex-månader_7805.htm

  19. very cool video.. So what do you do when you hit a cargo container in the middle of night. How often are containers being struck? I'm guessing they float low in the water and would be difficult to see? Thank you

  20. I read the Bailey's book back around 1976 or 7, when I was a teen.

    Interestingly, Maurice wrote an article for one of the magazines, either SAIL or Cruising World, and he seemed to have divided boating history roughly into two eras: before his sinking, and after his sinking, with cruising being much simpler with regards to dealing with government bureaucracies (customs & immigration) before his sinking. He seemed rather negative about post-sinking experiences with them.

  21. I'd love to see a video of reefing sails in big water. I'm new sailer which the rest of ya probably have a funny term for but i bet there are things that make or break the situation.

  22. Another great video on the Tips from the pros series Patrick! Great testimonial by you an Hank as well as the other posters to the channel. Beam winds (and to a salty home soon for Brick House) and the best to you and Rebecca!

  23. Actually, even though it doesn't sound like it, your whale strike should have been a learning experience for you! Whales DO NOT always get out of your way! As a sailor, you should know that and when your able, you need to avoid colliding or interfering with all whales! keep your distance and don't harass them!

  24. I hit one in my 25' sloop off of Cabo San Lucas at 6 knots. Stopped me dead. Cutaway forefoot full keel. I rode up the back of the whale. I was shaken, but the boat was fine. Secondly, all men cruisers should take heed. Listen to your partner and bear away. She was right. You were definitely wrong.

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