Whale leaps into couple’s sailboat off Cape Town

Two sailors are fortunate to be alive after a 40-ton southern right whale breached clear of the water and landed on their 32-foot boat, causing extensive damage but leaving the mariners only shaken.

But the incident, involving Ralph Mothes and Paloma Werner, who run the Cape Town Sailing Academy, is under investigation because some have suggested the couple was in violation for intentionally approaching the whale.

The sailors posted this comment on the Facebook page associated with the academy:

“While taking some pictures we decided to [head] back when a southern right whale, between 11-14 meters long, breach about 100 meters away from us and then suddenly breach about 10 meters from us and then on us. Scary!”

Witnesses have implied the sailors purposely tried to get closer to the whale. They claim that they were sailing without the motor running, so the whale must not have heard their boat or known it was in the vicinity.

“Our boat’s engine was off and so the whale just didn’t know we were there,” Paloma Werner said on a BBC report. “We were just the wrong boat, in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Both sailors dove for cover when it was clear the whale would land on their boat.

“Suddenly I heard my partner shout and when I looked around, I saw the huge thing breaching on the deck,” Werner said.

The condition of the whale is unknown.