Seven years of commercial whale watching seems to flow into each other, yet every so often one day stands out as something spectacular and the 9th of September 1993 was such a day.
Aboard the Safari Princess we had watched whales breaching next to the Fraser Princess and Lady Gairdner, also very close to our vessel. When another whale watch vessel approached, I slowly moved out of the area in search for another pod I had seen "spy-hopping".
We found this pod a bit further into the Bay, but as they were quietly swimming some 300 meters from us in the same direction we were traveling, I continued my speed and course.
The next time they surfaced these whales were less than 200 metres away, still heading the same direction. Imagine our surprise when we saw the whales next, now behind the vessel, rolling around in the stream of bubbles created by the two jet units.
I continued my speed and course and the next hour and fifty-eight minutes provided us with some of the most incredible sights I had ever seen.
These very friendly and inquisitive whales swam behind us, then along side, changes from port to starboard by diving under the boat, rolling over to show off their pure white bellies and then they did something I had never seen and `certainly did not expect: Swimming away from the Safari Princess one of them would accelerate, turn around and now at a reasonable speed head towards our bow, bringing its huge back within 2-3 metres as `it crossed.
And both whales did this again and again, just like you would expect dolphins to behave. Just playing with the Safari Princess and the people aboard. They were very much aware of us, they knew and responded to the screams, the laughter, the outstretched hands and the cameras kept on clicking. Then one of these animals swam about 150 metres in front of the vessel and did a "spy-hop", AND STOOD THERE AS THE SAFARI PRINCESS APPROACHED, STILL AT HER 2 KNOTS!
At the point of almost touching the whale slowly moved its head to the left, allowing the vessel to pass, in total control of the situation. The whales continued their play, until they suddenly lost interest, changed course and slowly swam away. They received a well earned round of applause from all our passengers and I wrote into the logbook: "Great".