SOLAR NAVIGATOR and THE LOST WHALE
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CHAPTER 1 - THE NORTH POLE
It was early in the fall and the beginning of the annual migration from the Gulf of Alaska to Hawaii, en route to the Great Barrier Reef. One group of North Pacific Humpback whales had already started the 3,500 mile journey to warmer waters, a bit like a summer holiday, except as mother nature knows only too well, every wild journey has a reason. The young and mature males were always the first to leave, eager to mark their territory. Then the adult females join in, as a trickle herd, out to stretch their muscles after many months gorging in the rich green feeding grounds that are the trademark of the northern waters.
One of the mature females is last to leave shadowing another female friend, a youngster, swimming more slowly than the others, but intent on meeting her sisters at the other end. She is the largest female in her group. Very strong and confident. The other whales, even the males, pay her much respect, for she has a temper, which very occasionally, snaps, and then watch out. If she were human, she'd be a redhead Maureen O'hara.
The epic exodus normally lasts from 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the rate of knots. This big whale was in no particular hurry as she set a southerly course for Maui, although of course she did not know the Island's name, nor the compass bearing. She just knows the Island by its taste, clear waters, its smell and the feeling of well-being when she reaches that location.
There are many different groups of whales in three populations spread about the globe, each with their own familiar pattern. Some are North Atlantic and others cruise the oceans of the southern hemisphere. Our big whale is from a northern group. This is by far the biggest group of whales, making up approximately 60% of the world's Humpback whale population.
She had eaten her fair share of schooling fish and krill and packed it all away in natures larder, as blubber, which stores and releases energy on demand to sustain these wonderful animals on their travels. As she swam along she thought of all those long summer days chasing and being chased by the adult males, in a ritual as old as time itself, but none the less enjoyable for that. All the while the sun shone, providing the energy for photosynthesis, the basis of all nearly all life on earth, which chemical reaction makes the algae grown aplenty as they manufacture carbohydrates, which in turn provides food for the next in line along the food chain. Humpback adults can eat up to 2,000 lbs of krill in a single day. Every food chain eventually comes to a halt with the dominant animal it supports. Food chains as with any other form of energy conversion, is dreadfully inefficient when viewed clinically. When man broke the back of the food chain, by growing his own crops, on which to rely, he accidentally improved the efficiency of the supply chain. Then he farmed animals intensively, since he had the crops to feed them and take control of his environment, but enough on that.
Our whales are making good progress and several weeks go by without event, then from the west the big whale notices a dark shape looming in the direction of the younger female. Now, those of you who've been at sea will know that ships regularly cross paths. One minute there's nothing, then a ship comes into sight and just as suddenly, it's gone. For this reason the big whale did not think anything was out of the ordinary................. However, it is a Japanese whaler out on a spot if illegal hunting, intent on making a defenseless animal into sushi and other highly prized whale parts........for huge profits.
All of a sudden, and not really knowing why, something triggers her to action. It may have been the fact the distance was closing between the dark silhouette and her friend, it may have been she recognized the smell of death. Whatever it was she tried to close the distance between herself and her friend. Rising out of the water as shorter intervals, she is now straining to see what is afoot. Every muscle in her body is now working to the full to propel her through the deep blue waters. She is breathing deep breaths and spurting high water from her blowhole, much like an Olympic swimmer at full crawl.
Unfortunately, her friend is not such a strong swimmer and worse still, not being so world-wise is unaware of the whaler, until it is right on top of her. The pirates are gathered on deck, their powered harpoon gun at the ready, others stand by with grappling hooks, intent and concentrating on the hunt, ready to snag the whale once the death blow has been loosed. The whaler comes up alongside with great skill and precision and the harpoon is fired with deadly effect. The poor whale didn't even take the evasive action any animal might make, when swimming too close to another. The strike is immediate and decisive. Modern harpoons weigh around 50 kilograms and discharge air with explosive force into the victims. The shock of the impact and tremendous force unleashed, renders the whale still almost immediately, while the compressed air released, keeps the whale afloat. Only the waves now give movement to the stricken animal, at which point the human pack close in with the grappling hooks to secure the catch.
Whaling harpoon - lethal weapon of destruction
The big whale was unable to reach her friend in time to warn her, or to render assistance as to how to evade the human predators. Still going at an impressive pace, many whales would now realise the hopelessness of the situation, turned away and saved themselves. But something inside her brain snapped. She became enraged as the smell of blood in the water reached her, and thinking to save her friend, she pushed forward faster and harder as a new wave of adrenaline coursed through her veins. She headed straight for the whaling boat. At which point the pirates turned to stare in disbelief. They could not believe their luck, Two whales in one hunt. Pirate whalers are smaller vessels, not the huge whale ships employed before the world wide ban on hunting. They are not equipped to cope with more than one animal at time. However, they could always tow anther victim in. Greed written all over them.
All these thoughts and more were going through the minds of the pirates, as the harpooner frantically re-loaded his weapon. The captain of the whaler, Judas Razer, shouted commands to the helmsman to alter course to pass down one side of the big whale. The whole crew were cheering because they had never seen such a large whale, and never seen one coming to them to be slaughtered so willingly. All they could think about was the prize money. However, the speed with which the big whale was traveling caught the whalers off-guard. The boat could not complete the maneuver the captain had ordered, but the harpooner had just reloaded when the big whale struck their boat a savage blow to the bows. The impact literally shoved the vessel round. The old steel hull tore where rust and misuse had taken its toll below the waterline. The big whale kept swimming at full stoke of her powerful tail past the damaged hull away to sea.
Panic ensued on the pirate whaler as the crew realised their boat was going down by the head. The captain continued to bark orders at the crew, some of whom responded, despite concerns to their safety. The harpooner slipped on the deck and was shoved aside as the captain leapt to take the shot himself. The captain ordered the helmsman to follow the whale, but there was really no need. The big whale still charged with energy had turned back and now swum again with all her strength, but before the whaler could complete the move to go head to head, the big female struck again just at savagely as before, this time to the rear quarter. Again the battered hull shrieked and gave way, just enough to seal the boat's fate. Unfortunately, the captain was a tough character. He'd braced himself and patiently waited for the whale to come into his sights. With his boat now awash under his feet, he managed to squeeze off the lethal canon. The harpoon hissed through the salty air to strike a glancing blow on the big whales back. The charge did not go off, but the whale had been wounded, enough to bring her back to an analytical state. At which point she broke off her attack.
As the rising water gushed over the gunwales over the decks, the pirates cut loose a survival boat and launched....................... JUdas, .....................
Trailing blood, the big whale managed to pace herself until darkness arrived to cover her escape. She changed course several times, to throw off the hunters, even though none were giving chase. In doing so she has slightly lost her bearings and entered into unfamiliar waters, pressing deeper into the southern oceans than ever before. In fact she has become lost. But for some reason feels no fear. Somehow, she knows it is okay to go this way. She can almost hear her family calling to her. ................
CHAPTER 2 - SYDNEY AUSTRALIA
We go back in time to the summer of 2049, John Storm arrives late as usual, downtown Sydney, for the reading of his uncle's last will and testament. Other members of the family each receive substantial cash sums. As his other aunties and their children are handed there share, they glance at poor John, exhibiting some difficulty in containing their excitement, while also managing to show their satisfaction that they were remembered ahead of their cousin. Close friends are left small mementos, the remained of the estate goes to various research charities, and it looks as though John gets nothing. John grins, thinking to himself, just like his uncle. He'd always been taught to do for himself - to be self reliant. This must be the final lesson - he thought.
Just as John has turned to leave the by now empty chambers, than George Franks, the senior partner in the legal firm; 'Franks, Swindles and Gentry,' trusted to handle his uncle's affairs, calls to John, beckoning him to come back. George is a tall man with gray-hair. He is wearing fine wire rimmed spectacles George is of average build and he's wearing a dark blue pin stripped suit. The two men know of each other, having spoken on the telephone, but have never met. John is well built, not too tall and obviously very capable of handling himself in a tough spot. He always was a bit of a rebel. Wild expeditions looking for treasure, etc., and that missing something from his life.
He's had a few casual affairs with women, but nothing serious, since that special girlfriend from college. They had parted with very few words, and somehow due to pressing circumstances, never made it back to say sorry. Sarah Jones had blonde hair intelligent features and spoke with a European accent. She had passed out of university with several degrees in biology and medicine, which charted a career course 180 degrees away from John. They both knew it, and that is perhaps one reason neither one of them tried too hard to get back together.
George handed John an envelope, which John stared at for a few moments, then looked quizzically at the older man. Inside was a single two sheets of paper, one a personal letter, the other some instructions and an address. It read:
You are the only person I can leave this too, who might appreciate it and I can trust to use in the spirit it was intended.
Please look after her for me and feel free to modify her as you see fit.
CHAPTER 3 - PIRATES
Japan. Precise location. A restaurant where the rich and powerful dine on speciality meats. Fish is a delicacy. Whale meat, an aphrodisiac. It is forbidden to hunt whales by international treaty, but the equivalent of marine poaching is a way of life for ruthless gangs who raom the sea in search for easy money..................
The dockside is busy as usual, with loading and unloading of several boats, despite the late hour. The Suzy Wong is well worn. A familiar refuge to the crew during lonely hours searching for the most lucrative prey of all - the humpback whale. Pound for pound, whale meat is almost as valuable as gold. This is because Japan stopped hunting whales many years ago.
CHAPTER 4 - MELBOURNE
CHAPTER 5 -
CHAPTER 6 -
Because of Hawaii's location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the water is relatively nutrient free (which is why their waters are so clear & blue) and too warm to support enough of the humpback's food to sustain them year round. They must migrate back to colder water to feed and rebuild their blubber supply.
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