While Maurice and Maralyn Bailey thought about their impending death on a liferaft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a sperm whale emerged and contemplated them. One huge eye, inches from the boat, peered at the couple. “It’s such a treat to see a docile whale alongside you. It did nothing. It just stared at us for half an hour. I got to know it very well. It eventually went off very slowly, just dived without a splash. It was marvellous,” Maurice said when recalling their 117-day ordeal at sea.

The couple had sold all their belongings to buy a 9.5m yacht, the Auralyn, and set sail from Southampton in June 1972 for a life of adventure. On March 4, 1973, a 12m whale crashed into the hull when they were about 500km west of the Galapagos Islands.

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