Four friends embarked on an epic sailing adventure and now have a whale-sized tale to tell.
Rick Rodriguez and his three friends were on a weekslong trip to French Polynesia from the Galapagos by sailboat, The Washington Post reported.
They were having a quick pizza lunch when they heard a bang on March 13, 13 days into their three-week trip.
“It just happened in an instant. It was just a very violent impact with some crazy-sounding noises and the whole boat shook,” Rodriguez told the “Today” show.
The bang ended up being a large whale that hit Rodriguez’s sailboat, the Raindancer.
“The back half of the boat lifted violently upward and to starboard,” the sailor told the Post.
The impact broke the propeller and the fiberglass around the boat.
The whale didn’t go away unscathed either.
“It sounded like something broke and we immediately looked to the side and we saw a really big whale bleeding,” Rodriguez told “Today.”
One of Rodriguez’s companions believed it was a Bryde’s whale that was about as long as the boat.
“I saw a massive whale off the port aft side with its side fin up in the air,” Alana Litz told the Post.
Another member of the group thought she saw a smaller dorsal fin of a whale another 30 to 40 feet from the craft, leading the group to believe there were two whales near their boat.
The 44-foot sailboat sank in about 15 minutes, but not before the four friends were able to get on a life raft in the middle of the Pacific.
The Post reported that Rodriguez was able to text a friend, writing, “Tommy this is no joke. We hit a whale and the ship went down,” adding, “Tell as many boats as you can. Battery is dangerously low.”
The water flowing into the ship activated an alarm. Rodriguez also sent out a mayday call and the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. Officials in Peru alerted the U.S. Coast Guard in California about the sinking.
Rodriguez also put on his snorkel and grabbed a tarp to see if he could repair the damage, but it was too bad. Meanwhile, the rest of his crew grabbed emergency gear, food, safety equipment and water, filling whatever they could from the boat’s kitchen sink before the saltwater rose too high, the Post reported. They had enough food for about three weeks, water for about a week and a fishing pole.
But they didn’t need all of what they were able to grab.
About 10 hours later, and floating about nine miles from where the sailboat went down, a civilian ship spotted them and pulled them from the Pacific Ocean.
Geoff Stone, captain of the ship Rolling Stones, saw on a Facebook group about the sailboat sinking and realized he was about 60 miles away. He found their exact location and headed toward them, eventually meeting the life raft and lifting the four friends to safety, “Today” reported.