Whale Synchronicity

It’s hard to believe we’re beginning to think about our migration south after nearly four months of relishing time with loved ones in the Northeast while bopping around to a few new destinations. Our fifth hurricane season living on the boat started with our arrival to the northern most point of New Jersey. We pulled into Sandy Hook, NJ on May 19th, which happens to be my birthday. It was a very memorable day because for one, it wasn’t raining. In fact, it was a glorious sunny day. And whereas I remember my birthday in earlier years, like the entire first half of my life, usually being rainy, I think in midlife I’ve been on a solid sunny streak. Granted that’s because at least two out of the last 3 have been spent in the Bahamas. But I’m taking the streak, no matter the location. Ask me if you should make plans for an outdoor event on May 19th, anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States and I may still strongly encourage you to rent a tent, bring it indoors or pick any other day in the month of May.

Monarchs’ migration path goes over Rhode Island. This was taken on our hike to Vaill Beach, a favorite spot on Block Island. No matter how crowded the island gets, there’s always a sacred spot to find yourself alone.
When we were landlubbers we stayed at the 1661 Inn about four or five times a year. We treated ourselves to a Monday morning brunch and one of our favorite views on the island, filled with memories.
Another favorite hike on Block Island is Rodman’s Hollow. Spectacular views and pristine trails.
Clayhead Trail might be my favorite, if I’m forced to choose. Salt ponds on either side of you and cliffside views. Goldfinch swooping in at every angle. Seagulls flying alongside you at eye level.
Used to ride our motorcycle to our favorite spots and then hike. Now we bike ride the steep hills on the island and then hike. Someone needed a break in a shady spot.
Sat to have our picnic with a view of the North Lighthouse in the distance and gazing over Cow Cove and spotted harbor seals playing in the surf.

On this particular birthday morning, we had been out at sea for three days when Paul surprised me with a darling gift all wrapped with forethought and love. I was so touched that he remembered so many days in advance, prepped to be at sea for the day, that I didn’t even need to open it. Just placing it away in a drawer, unopened, as is, would have been enough for me to take out and remind myself of that glorious morning and unexpected surprise. In this sailing life we travel with an acute awareness of the seasons and weather patterns, but knowing days of the week is not a priority nor a daily awareness, like it was during landlubbing life. Paul’s clandestine preparation is incredibly impressive on all sorts of levels, that being one. The gift was rich enough as is, unwrapped. Alas I did eventually open it, after the initial heart melt was sopped up and tear drop dried, the child in me ripped in.

Were finally able to accept our friends’ invite to Mattapoisett, MA. Spent our first day on a bike tour along the shore.
This was the first time I saw an osprey’s nest with two chicks and momma. They were very active in the bay where we had a mooring ball.
Hadley Harbor is across Buzzards bay from Mattapoisett and I hiked the uninhabited Bull Island
This is Naushon Island, owned by the Forbes. We anchored between it and Bull Island until Hurricane Henri warnings chased us west.
I paddled to Bull Island and Paul took the dinghy. He followed me around to make sure I didn’t get lost. That’s Naushon island in front of me.

When I finally did rip into the box, I found a necklace from the museum we had visited several days before in Beaufort, NC. A silver whale’s fluke on a chain. Three months later, I’ve rarely taken it off. But the gift giving that day was not over yet.

On one of our trips, Paul decided to catch dinner, but it was a blue fish and Mr. Fish went back. Have eaten plenty blue fish on charters we did with the kids, but decided to give the guy back to the ocean.
This is a public schooner that goes for a morning and sunset sail out of Port Jefferson, LI. It’s a convenient anchoring spot when we’re traversing the Long Island Sound.
Sunset in Eastchester Bay, after sailing fast to get out of Hurricane Henri’s way.
The clouds starting to darken, but this was a separate thunder storm right before Henri that brought some spectacular lightening, vertical and horizontal, that filled the sky over the NYC skyline.

Not mere hours later after opening my delightful birthday gift, Paul spotted two whales right off the coast as we were rounding the point at Sandy Hook. Yes, real whales. I went out on deck and stood in anticipation, hoping they’d surface again, scanning the horizon and looking in the general direction Paul said they were traveling. Unlike dolphins whale spotting in this part of the Atlantic is a bit more rare. Suddenly, whoosh! I heard them before I saw them, quickly turned my head in that direction right off our beam and there they were, mother and calf. I watched the spray from their blowholes settle, their blowholes close before dipping down again, their wet, silky, black backs then fins curved up and over while I stayed fixed holding my breath as they slid sleekly back into the water. Gone. They had swam even closer to the boat than I could have imagined and I got a great look. It was the sound as much as the sighting that thrilled, since it was so loud thanks to proximity, as if they had microphones held up to their blow holes, whale blows in stereo.

Was able to join my dear friends for our annual Cape May reunion. Here’s mama Sarah with Maya and Daniel K enjoying the Cape May vibes.
Such a special time to reconnect in the delightful little town of Cape May, NJ with dear friends. The waters are filled with dolphin and the streets are filled with chocolate.
Ride our bikes to the Beach Plum Farm and neighboring winery at least once during the week we’re there. Got two trips in this year. This day was with Sister Sarah. The grounds are fairytale-like.
Had a blast getting together with Paul’s old St. John’s buddy Mike and his lovely wife Fern. We laughed and cried reminiscing life and times.
Walter and Linda (aren’t they cute in their matching Shearwater shirts?) always have us over for dinner at their beautiful home on City Island when we’re in town. We finally got to reciprocate. We’ve raced as crew twice on their boat, s/v Shearwater, our neighbor here in the mooring field. It is pure joy being reckless on someone else’s boat! Walter is a great captain.
Former student, Ivan, is a hardworking young man and we were pleased to host him on his rare day off.
After nearly 25 years, the queens, prince and Blanchettes of cushy Cushing Academy reunite.
On our daily bike rides around the trails to Orchard Beach, we found this interesting patch. I wanted to call Paul Stamets and see what he had to say about it.

I watched and watched for another surfacing of those stately creatures, but no such luck, yet still feel very blessed to have had that additional birthday gift. I’m guessing they were pilot whales which are the most common in this area of the Atlantic and because they have a dorsal fin, like the ones I saw. We looped around the point, landed in our preferred location and dropped anchor. We then took the dinghy off the aft deck for the first time in months, COVID did not allow us to do much adventuring last winter season, and we were off to town. Not before I donned my whale fluke necklace and matching whale fluke earrings, a previous gift from my dear friend Thania, I was ready. Whale bling donned, filled with the thrill of arriving and having a whale sighting, we went into town to have a birthday meal on the deck at a favorite spot in downtown Atlantic Highlands.

Savannah Lawrence teaching Paul some puzzle skills. Her parents met sailing and I met mom when we chaperoned 20 teenagers to the mountains of Ecuador. We’re both crazy like that.
Fun event to rewild Long Island, in Port Washington (Paul’s hometown) with my writing teacher and childhood friend Sonia (beautiful woman in the floral dress). Got to participate in the poetry reading portion of the event.

A few days later we made the always epic sail through the East River, to City Island Yacht Club where we ended up taking care of several boat chores, land chores and delighted in visits with friends and family. We got in a few trips to LI, RI and MA as well.

Sailed over to Huntington Harbor to see these beautiful people. Paul’s Sister Joanne, her husband Charlie, niece Summer and beau Patrick. We’re hoping to visit again soon before heading south.
Brendan and Rose came by for a leisurely sail. The wind was light, but it was a first time sailing for Rose, so it worked out just fine.
An exciting time was had cheering on Blake in his first NYC Triathlon.
Yes, Blake looks fresh as a daisy and we’re all frazzled after running around the course to catch a glimpse.
Got to visit Bryan, Meaghan and Winston in their home in the mountains. Bryan is a master smoker and made us a lovely meal.
Sweet cuddle with momma.
Winston and Pop-pop taking a little nap after lunch.
July 4th BBQ at Aunt Angela’s and a little surprise graduation festivity for the grad, thanks Michela and Nicholas for the well-wishes and fun.

I think of the likelihood of receiving my birthday gift of a whale’s fluke on a chain, the very day that we had a whale sighting, and after three days at sea…. Two events, unrelated, though occurring together and on the day of my birthday. The flukes… a fluke? I think not. In four years of sailing, we’ve had about 4 whale sightings. Three off the Coast of Jersey, one in Georgia. Unlikely to occur on this particular day, at this particular time after receiving this particular gift? In this part of the world, yes. If we were off the Coast of Maui in December, I would say, not a rare sighting at all, you see them breaching every few minutes on some days. The ones migrating past Maui are huge humpbacks. And these Jersey whales were smaller, likely pilot whales like I said. Plus my birthday is in May. And above all, we were not in Maui.

Sunset over Block Island
Moon rising on a calm Great Salt Pond in Block.
Successfully rode out Hurricane Henri and stayed tucked away in the mooring field at CIYC.

So, I stop and pay attention and understand in a profound sense, this is exactly where we’re supposed to be. A divine alignment of sorts. With so many factors, all truly uncontrollable, because you never know when things just come together… or fall apart where you are standing. In fact there have been times where not only has it felt like the rug was ripped out from under, but that the whole floor, walls, and ceiling went missing. It’s life. As I stopped to reflect and pay attention and contemplate the synchronicity at that very moment, there came a very deep and reassuring peace. Despite the struggles and doubts, life’s trials, tribulations and losses, the only place you could ever dream of finding yourself at any given moment, is where you are in that exact instant. And that’s exactly where you should be.

Very quiet morning pulling up anchor early to head to Massachusetts. You can see all the anchor lights aglow as the sun begins to rise. It’s one of those sacred moments you can find yourself alone, on Block Island, even when it’s still high season.

And when it happens to be one of those less ideal moments in life when your surroundings seem to be melting around you? Hold tight, surround yourself with loving loyal people, wait for the tide to change, and always keep watch on the horizon for fateful flukes.

10 responses to “Whale Synchronicity”

  1. I love your writing AnnaMarie I feel like I am there enjoying all that you are seeing and feeling. I was admiring your necklace this weekend and meant to tell you. Thanks for a great weekend of sailing and new memories. We look forward to more. Love and hugs to you both. Safe travels! ❤️ Joanne, Charlie, and Summer

    • Thank you Joanne, yes it was a special weekend and looking forward to another rendezvous, maybe the next will be somewhere with gin clear waters and white sand beaches. I’m humbled and so please that you enjoy reading the blog. Love to all!

  2. So happy to hear from you. What gorgeous places you visited and captured to share with the rest of us. Anna Marie your BD was so very special. We hope you’ll be sailing to Fl on your way south. If you get to Tampa, please let us know. We bought s home and would love to have you over or meet you for dinner. Happy and safe sailing.

    • So glad to hear you finally found a place! We don’t plan to sail to the west coast, but we may take a drive over when we get to the east coast of Fl. We would love to see you both!

  3. not long ago – a year or so ??? – whales were seen in NY harbor and off the south shore of LI. We saw many on our trip to Alaska – they are a sight to behold, and remember, as you did on your birthday. Lois had knee replacement surgery last week; we’re both laid up for a while – patient and nurse that isn’t always so patient.

    • Always great to get an update from you and Lois. Heal fast Lois! God Bless you both. Love Paul and Anna Marie

  4. SO cool!! What great adventures you have had this summer! Hope to catch you again. I’ll touch base to see where you are now…

  5. So beautiful! I am humbled to have been even a small part of it. Thank you for your friendship.

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