The Tic Toc Islands

Whale Watching in Chile’s Bay of Tic Toc

We are not hiking today, instead we plan a day of on-water exploration using Atmosphere as our base. We launch the big Zodiac Hurricane 920 RIB and get ready to set off for a day of excitement afloat in which we plan to circumnavigate the uninhabited islands in the bay of Tic Toc.

But, as so often happens when plans are made, something happens that brings about a change of mind. It is this ability to so quickly alter plans that sets apart luxury yacht charter from those more formalised itineraries of mini cruise liner.

Francisco our helicopter pilot was returning to the yacht having dropped off Brent and Sally for a full day of trout fishing on a mountain-top lake at Miragualay when, as he approached the yacht, he saw whales in the channel outside our sheltered bay. Acting as our eye in the sky, he quickly noted their position some 3 miles north west of the island of Horadada reporting the fact to officers on the bridge of the yacht who plotted the latitude and longitude onto the navigation chart. The VHF radio on the RIB crackled into life as we heard Atmosphere calling us to pass the information.

With Pablo at the helm of the powerful RIB we abandoned our sightseeing expedition and shot across the waves to the coordinates cameras at the ready. We were not disappointed, and saw the plumes of the whales venting when we were some three miles off.

Slowing down so as not to frighten them we approached with caution. As we did so and came closer, we were able to see them jumping clear out of the water, barrel rolling so as to show us their white bellies and giving us the positive identification that we have found a pod of Orcas or Killer Whales.

We counted nine or so including a mother and calf and a very much larger, dominant male. They showed little fear and seemed to assume the dark grey and black RIB was a distant cousin and came in for a closer look. They performed their routines in front of us, first to port then to starboard blowing plumes of air and seawater from their blowholes each time they surfaced.

Frequently they surfaced so close to the side of the boat as to be inside touching distance. On several occasions they ploughed through the water heading straight for the side of our boat only to dive below the boat and appear on the other side, an action that pt hearts into mouths as we pondered what would happen if the manoeuvre were to go pear shaped.

The convoy comprising of boat and whales moved westwards towards a very small out crop of rocks that were frequently awash as the Pacific swell broke over them. It was as we studied the rocks that we suddenly realised why it was the whales were hanging around in the vicinity. There, clinging perilously to the rocks, were a female and couple of young sea lions who, to the Orcas looked somewhat appetising.

We watched as the sea swept the baby sea lions from their rocky perch, we felt their mothers panic as the babies scrambled to regain their hard ground. Adept and agile in the water they maybe when they are seeking their own prey, these sea lions, on this occasion, clearly felt that safety was rock shaped.

We leave you to make up your own ending to the story giving you the choice between happy and otherwise. Safe to say that eventually, having entertained us for nearly two hours, the whales made one last spectacular series of jumps attempting to touch the sky and then dived deep into the ocean leaving us to turn the RIB around and head back towards the yacht for our own lunch.