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Photo: Whale Slams Into Sailboat, Man Recounts 'Great Big Crash'

The Jorys' damaged sailboat. (Photo by Scott Thomas, courtesy of Pete Thomas)
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A couple's dramatic run-in with a whale nearly sunk their sailboat off Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Ian Jory told blogger Pete Thomas that he and his wife Jo were returning from Catalina Island on Monday around 1 p.m. They'd just seen another boater who was whale watching in the fog when they felt a huge impact on the bottom of their 31-foot sailboat.

"We were just sitting there, not moving, and all of a sudden there was a great big crash," Jory said of their encounter with the whale, which he estimated to be 50 feet long. "It lifted the left side of the boat 4-6 feet out of the water."

The whale first struck the left side of the boat and a moment later, struck the other side. Jory figures that he probably struck them by accident while surfacing for air or feeding.
"All I have is a small motor and it was in idle, and it hardly makes any noise so maybe it couldn't hear us," he told Thomas.

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Both collisions left cracks in the hull and because water started seeping in, Jory radioed for help.

A lifeguard boat and Redondo Beach Fire Department boat responded to the call, and a lifeguard jumped into the water to inspect the damage. They then escorted the sailboat to King Harbor in Redondo Beach.

Thomas's brother Scott happens to be the manager of the King Harbor Marine boat-repair yard, and said that in addition to the cracked hull, the bulkheads inside the sailboat were separated as result of the whale strikes.

Thomas posted a photo of the boat showing where the whale rubbed off the paint. The cracked hull isn't apparent in the pic. He says the boat is salvageable, but the bulkhead damage is "pretty extensive." Scott Thomas told LAist that he's never seen a boat damaged by a whale before. He's heard stories of boats running into whales, but not the other way around.

(There is this account of a whale running into, and capsizing, a much smaller fishing boat off the coast of Mexico.)

There have been a dozen or more blue whales feeding off the Long Beach-Palos Verdes area during the past several days, Thomas reports.

Jory is thankful he and his wife wasn't injured and said he hoped the same was true of the whale.

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