Song of the Whale - Update 10.14-10.20.2007

Sunday 14th October

In the morning all the boats in Manoel harbour in Malta are rolling on their moorings, a good indication of the swell beyond the break water. Given the gale warnings we drop the stay sail and raise the storm jib in anticipation of the weather we expect to encounter. As we leave the harbour in the late afternoon, we pile into a large swell blown up by the cold north easterly winds. Destiny is obviously going to have us in full waterproofs for the next few days!

Monday 15th and Tuesday 16th October

As we sail close to the wind on a northerly heading towards Italy on the third reef and storm jib the light fades, the swell picks up and the rain starts to pour. We drop the main sail and continue north under engine. Visibility at some points is so bad we can only see the front of the boat because of the navigation lights. In these conditions it becomes vitally important to keep a sharp eye on the radar and AIS screens as these will give the only indication of other craft nearby. After a very wet day the worsening weather forces us to take cover in Reggio, an Italian port on the straits of Messina which run between the toe of Italy and Sicily.

Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th October

For 24 hours the conditions are just too rough for us to move, but by
morning the weather has greatly improved; the sun is shining, the wind
settles into a gentle breeze and the swell drops off. Amongst the peaks
of the Sicilian mountains we can see the clouds of volcanic ash coming
from Mount Etna. The weather now is a complete contrast to the previous
few days, with mirror flat seas and clear skies and the crew welcomes
the change in conditions. During the afternoon we reach the Southern
Adriatic and start getting regular detections of dolphins on the

Friday 19th and Saturday 20th October

On the run in to Croatia we were met by the bitterly cold Easterly
winds known as 'Bora'. Although we have no sightings of whales, we
encounter a few groups of striped dolphins. This species has only been
seen intermittently in the area. We arrive in Gruz harbour, north of
Dubrovnik, shortly after lunchtime on Saturday. Gruz is the commercial
harbour that serves Dubrovnik, but is very unlike some of the other
commercial harbours we have been to this year. The scenery is stunning
and the sun shines against an impressive backdrop of mountains, trees
and typical central European architecture; a very nice end to what has,
at times, been a tough trip up the Ionian and Adriatic.
So that brings us to the end of our Eastern Mediterranean survey!

As we
said previously while we are in Dubrovnik we will be supporting the ACCOBAMS Meeting of Parties and then make our way back to the UK for
the winter. All that's left to say is a big thank you from all the SOTW
team to everybody that has contributed to and helped to make this field
season so successful. We plan to start our next field season around May
next year and we will be concentrating on developing the research
techniques needed to study beaked whales. Thanks for all your support
in reading our diaries and please come back and join us on our next

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