Jim and I were crossing a half mile wide bay in our canoe on our way back to camp. It was late afternoon and the water was calm and smooth. It wasn’t raining for a change. We were about a quarter mile from shore when the first whale appeared. We really should not have been that far from shore in an open canoe but we were in a hurry to get to camp so we cut across the bay.
I was in the back of the canoe and concentrating on steering when I noticed a small v-shaped ripple on the surface of the water. About fifteen to twenty feet to my right and moving forward was a small fin. As I watched the fin grow slowly until it was sticking six feet out of the water. By then it was in full view of Jim and two more whales had appeared, One was a calf that was sticking close to its mother. The whales were right on the surface and we could see the whales spout plumes of water and air from their blowholes.
I was watching the whales and I hadn’t noticed that Jim was standing in the front of the canoe. I did not know where he thought he was going. Now, when you are a quarter mile from shore and the sea water temperature is cold enough to kill you in ten minutes and you’re in the middle of a pod of killer whales, standing up in a canoe is not recommended. Jim never made mistakes like this. It was perhaps the only life-threatening thing I ever saw Jim do. I yelled “Sit down” as loud as I could and he slowly sat down so as not to throw-off our balance. He had regained his composure.
We watched as the whales continued toward shore until they disappeared. Then we continued ‘home.’ All in a day’s work.