The Viking and the Whale

It is VERY unusual for me to send out two blog updates in one day, but I think this merits it. Below are pictures of a boat (Viking 60) that struck a whale, just last week, here in Cabo. It’s amazing no one got hurt… What follows is a report by the Captain (not me!).

-Ken W

PS My earlier blog posting had some broken links. Oops. They fixed now on the website.

We had just finished catching all the bait for A’s trip and caught
several Marlin. It was 11:30 am.

We had seen Whales everywhere all morning. Many breaching. One had jumped
two days prior and hit a boat upon falling back into the water. We had just
gotten the boat to 22 knots. 2 people on the bridge looking for Whales. When
the bow was thrown straight up into the air. 40 tons of Whale colliding with
40 tons of boat at 90 degree angles.

You can see the point of impact in the pix. After careful examination of the
damage , the only conclusion is the Whale was just about to breach. It
struck with such force that Pete was thrown several feet in the salon into
the aft bulkhead. If I had not been with my back against my chair I would
have been thrown from the bridge.

I have seen several boats that have hit Whales in the past. Usually, you
ride up on the back much as a boat going up on a sandbar, roll down the side
and do strut, prop and rudder damage. None of this happened. All of the
damage was sustained forward , at a hard angle to the chine. I can’t begin
to explain the violence of the collision. If I had to guess I would say the
Whale was going to jump quartering towards us, almost straight up. You can
see this in the pics. The fiberglass that is peeled back is from the
hydraulic force of the water peeling it loose as we traveled home. The
picture of the Port side shows the force of impact knocking the tube loose
and punching a hole in the opposite side.( Note the fiberglass strands
sticking out)

We were very fortunate to save the boat and not wind up in the water. It
wouldn’t have been a bad thing as several boats were around us. I would have
lost 30 years of unreplaceable notes and all our personal belongings though.

Unbelievable amount of fiberglass forward in this boat. I can’t belive how
many laminations were in the stem. I don’t know how the boat survived the

I am sick right now. Gonna try to think about something else for a few






9 Responses

  1. Ken / Sam, thanks for the information. I will follow your advise and let you know how it goes. Appreciate you taking the time to respond.

  2. I used Lulu to publish a guidebook for the Crystal Mountain South Backcountry recently. It was a project a friend and I had worked on with no intention of making any money, but it has actually turned out pretty well. We aren’t getting rich by any means, but it’s nice to have any extra money that you can get.

    I did not buy an ISBN number for the book for a few reasons. First, the geographic area that I am dealing with is small, basically just the Seattle area. Because of this I don’t need to market the book nationally. Instead, I called, emailed, or visited a bunch of ski shops in the area, showed them a copy of the book, and took orders from them. I ended up just ordering a bunch to keep at the house and then deliver them to various places when needed. This worked well and allowed me to get the bulk discount and make more money. I also have an online store set up with Lulu to sell the book online. This is super easy, since you don’t really have to do anything and you get a check sent to you every quarter, but if you want to sell many copies you need to have a good way of getting the word out. If Nordhavn put a link to it from their homepage, I imagine you’d sell a ton of copies very quickly…

    If you get a deal with a real publishing company, great, but it is very tough. If you go the self publishing route you could try to convince stores like West Marine to stock the book, at least online, but it would be tough to go to all of the small marine stores and convince them to carry it.


  3. John:

    My background is in the publishing business, although in software, not book publishing. I know a bit about book publishing, but am far from being an expert, so I can’t promise that what follows is accurate.

    Let me give you a bit of background on book publishing, from my perspective. And, to do so, I’ll divide the book world into three categories, for discussion purposes.

    1) “Vanity Publishers.” There are book publishers which prey on authors. They will tell you that your book is wonderful, and then ask you for money to publish and promote your book. They’ll offer a package deal where they print your book, warehouse it, fulfill orders for it, and promote it – all at your expense. Unless your book were to miraculously sell tons of copies, you will never make a dime off of these people, and (in my opinion) 99.9% of authors lose money.

    2) “Real Publishers.” These are what you really want. A “Real” publisher puts up the money to print your book, promotes your book, and assumes all costs, sending you a royalty on any copies sold. Many even give you a royalty advance against the future royalty stream. These publishers are very picky about what they publish, and are generally impossible to convince to publish your book.

    3) “Print on Demand Publishers” This is what I did. I use a company called ( . These guys are really only good for two things: a) Getting your book printed, in very low quantity, at a reasonable cost. And, b) Getting your book listed with the online booksellers. They claim an ability to get your book into retail distribution, and occasionally, such as with my book, actually do get some books into retail – but, generally, these are printing companies, they are not publishers.

    As you can guess from my comments above, I am negative on vanity publishers. These are sucker traps. Stay away from them.

    Real Publishers are to be cherished, and are what you would really want. However, having been a publisher for decades, I can tell you that these people generally find you, you don’t find them. I received hundreds of submissions each month, and always looked at what came in the mail, but it was rarely worth the effort. I think I published one product out of the thousands of unsolicited submissions. My strategy was probably like most “real” publishers, I knew what I could sell, and I sought out that product.

    As to what sells in the marine industry, my sense is that the big money falls into the following three categories:

    a) cruising guides. Particularly for popular cruising grounds (such as the Pacific NW).
    b) “How to” books; such as books on marine electronics.
    c) Disaster stories associated with well-know events

    Overall, the marine book market is tiny. My guess is that few books, even in these categories sell over 5,000 copies.

    So …. Why are my books “self-published” using a print-on-demand printer, rather than a “real” publisher? The honest answer is that the market for my books is too small. Were I a marine book publisher, I wouldn’t publish my own books. The niche of people who want to read about long-range cruising with a trawler is very small. I’ve done a good job, despite this, and have arguably sold more books than there are trawlers (between the two books, I’m well over 3,000 copies) . But, my situation is unique. My blog is read by thousands of people, and I’m fairly good at internet marketing. Plus, there are a lot of people who dream of owning a Nordhavn, and my books tend to have a lot of good Nordhavn-related info. I also have a lot of fans, from my old days in the consumer software business, who want to follow what Roberta and I are up to.

    As to the economics of self-publishing, it isn’t really a bad business model. As long as you publish in black and white, the costs for printing books are acceptable, and there are no barriers to entry. Here’s LuLu’s price list: ( You can buy copies of your book, in single copies for as little as $4.50 plus 2 cents a page. In other words, around $7.50 for a 150 page book. They really will get your book onto Amazon, and you can easily set up an online store or website to promote your book (there are lots of ways to do this, but obviously I’m biased towards ( ). That said, unless you have some way to get the word out about the books, you’ll be disappointed with your sales. The copies you buy for friends and family may be all there is.

    As to specifically, my thoughts on your idea for a book: There is a market, and you have a decent shot at finding a “real” publisher. I’d say that your book is in a category that appeals to publishers (How-To) and you have a bit of credibility by being able to say you presented at Trawlerfest. I don’t think you’d be wasting your time to turn your presentation into a book, IF you are willing to go the self-publishing route if you strike-out with the real publishers. The nice thing about self-publishing with a print-on-demand publisher, is that it is hard to lose money…

    -Ken W

  4. Ken, a little off the subject of your recent topic but I’m looking for a little assistance. Last month I presented a 45 minute talk (along with Powerpoint presentation) on Living Aboard a Trawler. Needless to say we had a captured audience and it went very well. Passagemaker magazine is interested in possibly publishing an artilce on the same subject. While that sounds appealing I would like to take a shot at writing and publishing a book on the same subject. Heck, with the state of the economy it may motivate a few folks to try something different. I purchased your book on crossing the atlantic from a small marine store in Alaska two years ago while on a Princess Cruise and handed it off to my father on the east coast. I was wondering if you could provide the company you used to have your books published. I’m not looking to get rish off this idea but rather just have some fun and possibly get a few people interested in this neat life style. you can email me directly at N4061@y… Thanks

    John T.

  5. I was always curious about the damage to the N76. If you want to send me the photos instead of publishing them, that would be great! I have included my e-mail address, or you could post them on N-Dreamers as well!



  6. Sam: I’m not sure how thick the glass is. My guess is “very”. Combined with the steel plate, I feel pretty could about a direct hit on the bow.

    I have pictures of the N76 that hit the freighter. I don’t remember if I ever posted them. They are quite an endorsement of why it’s worth the extra cost of buying a Nordhavn. I don’t think I’d want to try that trick in a Bayliner (or, apparently, a Viking). Actually, to be serious, I suspect luck had more to do with survival in that incident than the workmanship of the boat.

    I’m not sure how my boat would do in an encounter with a whale. I suspect the whale would have a worse day than I, but hope never to find out. Speed is the big issue in these collisions. There is an exponential relationship between speed and the power of a collision. At 8 knots, and with my considerably heavier boat, I believe I’d be fine, or hope I’d be.

    The last week in Cabo has been incredible. We’ve lived here for over a decade, and I’ve never seen so many whales.

    -Ken W

  7. why was this fool doing 22kts when he admits to to seeing whales aronud the boat all morning….what about the whale….I make this comment with 55years sailing under my keel….

  8. Wow…that is unbelievable. They are very lucky their boat stayed afloat. I think you are in much better shape in a Nordhavn, however. Running at 8 or 9 knots with fully protected running gear and very solid construction makes a Nordhavn one of the best boats for safely handling a collision at sea with just about anything. I’m sure you remember the 76 that had the collision with the freighter on the Pacific Coast. Not many boats could have handled that…

    I was looking through the FarSounder installation pictures on the Nordhavn Dreamers site the other day and noticed the extremely thick layup of the glass, it looked like 8-10 inches. Any idea how thick the glass is at the bow of your boat?


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