Of course things do not always go as planned.
Sometimes this is too bad, but sometimes things turn out better. My original plan for the Sardine run was so go with Chris and Monique Fallows' Apex Predators on May 26. Unfortunately this expedition was cancelled because of some drop-outs. So rebooked two weeks later, with marine biologist Steve Benjamin. Lucky for me, for when arriving at my base for this week, Port st. John's on the south coast of South Africa, I learned that the sardine run had not started yet this year. All the markers are there that is will start soon: lots of Gannets have gathered around the coast, the winds have finally changed in the right direction and the water temperature has dropped.
The first day unfortunately the winds were too strong to go out. We spent the day sight-seeing the country, visit several waterfalls and get ready for the dives. The weather forecast for the rest of the week is good, and the second day we could indeed sail out. Immediately it became clear why the decision last day was the right one: to get out to sea we have to do a surf launch, which means getting the zodiac from the river that flows through town through the strong surf before we are out in the open ocean. Not something you want to do with crazy winds and waves. As soon as we leave the rivermouth the temperature rises, because of the warm water we enter. Not a good sign, maar since the sardines we are looking for need a much lower temperature.
We cruise along the coastline anyway hoping to spot some action. And we do: soon we find a pod of bottlenose dolphins and we get the chance to snorkel with them as well as watch them jump the waves as they break. On the way back we head away from the land and get lucky again. We spot the humpback whales we have been hearing while snorkeling! Heading towards the spray we encounter 5 or 6 whales. Though we try to snorkel with them we can't see them under water. Above water they make an amazing sight however, and an amazing end to the first day at sea.