The “Fictitious Flying Fish” incident

You’ve heard of the Newfoundland tradition of “Kissing the Cod”? Well, passage shenanigans aboard Kinship had Lisa “Kissing the Fictitious Flying Fish” instead!

As experienced Caribbean sailors, Paul and Lisa informed us that we were bound to see lots of flying fish on our passage. Paul reportedly saw the first flying fish, entering the sighting in our log book on Day 4. Then he and Lisa continued to spot lots more of them, where Matthew and I could not spot a single one. We would sit staring at the sea for hours on our watches without ever seeing a single fish. We started accusing the Landry’s of hallucinating (ask Lisa about the jellyfish in the toilet bowl sometime :-), and referring to the beasts as the “Fictitious Flying Fish”.

We had to eat our words (but not the fish) when Lisa picked one up off our deck the next morning! Her reputation was saved, and she was grateful – but despite the kiss, poor Mr. Fictitious Flying Fish did not come back to life, turn into a handsome prince, or grant her three wishes. 

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Whale sighting!

On day 7 of our passage to the BVI’s we had a very special visitor, a minke whale! It was a bright sunny day, with winds from behind, both sails up, reasonable waves, and it just happened we were all sitting in the cockpit together (which doesn’t happen that all that often on passages), when I spotted something dark in the water…then it came up and spouted! It could only be a whale!

We all jumped out of our seats in excitement, quickly buckled on our safety harnesses, and watched as a very friendly minke whale proceeded to check us out. He clearly was curious about what he was seeing, as he came alongside and rolled onto his side to take a good look at us. Then he rolled right over and showed us his bright white belly. Was so close I could have tickled his tummy with a boat hook! He was about half our boat’s length, so about 20 feet long, plus or minus a few feet. He played around, diving under the boat and coming up on the other side repeatedly, passing right under Matthew and Paul’s feet as they stood on the bowsprit. He hung around for a good 15 minutes and gave us the show of a lifetime – it was so amazing, the photos don’t do it justice, but here they are anyway. It was definitely the highlight of the passage!

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Here is a bit of info on the minke whale (from Wikipedia) 

Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata).
The minke whales are the second smallest baleen whale; only the pygmy right whale is smaller. Upon reaching sexual maturity (6–8 years of age), males measure an average of 6.9 m (23 ft) and females 8 m (26 ft) in length, respectively. Both sexes typically weigh 4–5 t (3.9–4.9 long tons; 4.4–5.5 short tons) at sexual maturity, and the maximum weight may be as much as 10 t (9.8 long tons; 11 short tons).

The minke whale is a black/gray/purple color. Common minke whales (Northern Hemisphere variety) are distinguished from other whales by a white band on each flipper. The body is usually black or dark-gray above and white underneath. Minke whales have between 240 and 360 baleen plates on each side of their mouths. Most of the length of the back, including dorsal fin and blowholes, appears at once when the whale surfaces to breathe.

Minke whales typically live for 30–50 years; in some cases they may live for up to 60 years.

The brains of minke whales have around 12.8 billion neocortical neurons and 98.2 billion neocortical glia.[11]

The whale breathes three to five times at short intervals before ‘deep-diving’ for two to 20 minutes. Deep dives are preceded by a pronounced arching of the back. The maximum swimming speed of minkes has been estimated at 38 km/h (24 mph).

Passage to the BVIs – Preparations and Departure

It is a rainy day here in Virgin Gorda, where we are resting and settling into cruising mode so we have time to blog. 

The Caribbean 1500 Rally was a great experience. We arrived in Portsmouth VA about a week before the scheduled start of the passage.  


We decorated the boat with all our flags and bunting, Kathleen’s favourite bunting was on the arch above the dinghy. 


We had our safety inspection early in the week which was reassuring, we had a couple of minor issues to address, but nothing major or unexpected.  The Rally provided a binder with all the requirements and checklists and this really helped us to make sure we were ready. 

As the week progressed we attended seminars on key aspects of the trip.  Safety, medical, SSB Radio and weather all covered, together with tips on keeping your boat and engine at sea.

Paul and Lisa arrived mid week to join us for the trip south.  Paul and I filled 7 fuel cans and a water can, deflated the dinghy and spent an hour or so stuffing the lasserette.  We successfully got the dinghy, outboard and fuel stowed and were fairly sure we could get the fenders and lines in once we got off the dock.

By Friday, I was starting to feel that we had this all under control but the weather and Andy had other ideas.  On Friday morning during the final round of seminars it was announced that we were leaving on Saturday.  For the first time in this adventure I felt some real stress, I had a plan of action to get us to the start on Sunday but now I had to replan and sort through what we had to get done now and what we could skip.

After a couple of hours we sat down as a crew and tried to process the change.  The boat was mostly ready, just needed to prepare for sea but the crew and I had more than enough butterflies to go round and we struggled a bit to be calm as we addressed some of the crew coordination discussions we had not had time to do before.

Saturday morning came too quickly, we tidied the boat and headed out by about 10:30 in the morning.  We had about 2 hours motoring to get out to the bay.  Portsmouth and Norfolk are very busy ports.  This Saturday was perhaps busier that normal as several large boats were coming in to port.  The Carnival Sunshine cruise ship was coming in and the Coast Guard where trying to maintain an exclusion zone while 40 sailboats headed in the opposite direction.  They had their hands full, but they were very polite.


Following the cruise ship was a US Navy supply ship that wanted us on the other side of the channel.


Once we cleared out of Hampton Roads, life became simpler as we had room to avoid the commercial traffic and make our way out to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and the formal start of the rally, next stop, Nanny Cay.