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Whale leaps aboard sailing boat

Wednesday, August 20, 2003 Posted: 12:48 PM EDT (1648 GMT)

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- A British family's holiday was rudely interrupted when a 30-foot (9-meter) whale crashed onto their sailing boat off the east coast of Australia.

The 10-ton humpback whale leapt out of the water and pulled the rigging and mast along with it as it slid down the boat, British media reported on Wednesday.

"I was below deck when there was a hell of a crash from port as it leapt out of nowhere," said Trevor Johnson, 61, who was on the boat with his wife, two sons and a son's girlfriend.

"It's amazing that no one was hurt or killed, but it was a terrifying experience," he told The Daily Telegraph.

The 40-foot boat was 10 miles away from the shore and the radio equipment did not work

They were eventually towed to dry land after using a mobile phone to ring for help.

The family, from Coventry, chartered the 150,000 (U.S. $238,000) boat and set sail from Airlie Beach to go on a 10-day trip around the Whitsunday Islands, according to the Telegraph.

"There was a bang and a thud, and a whale came about 12 ft out of the water and slid down the side.

It was shedding barnacles from its tummy and caught itself on the rigging. I was very shocked -- it was very scary," Mark Johnson told the newspaper.

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