Monday, September 8, 2014

A Whale of a Time -- 9/7/2014

Departure day of the 2014 Ranger Rendezvous is here and Ray and Jocelyn come to release the lines of Willie's Tug.  They are joined by Eileen, Dil and Bob to say so long for now.

Our plan is to cruise south with MoonShadow to explore Hood Canal, our first stop being Port Ludlow.  Skippers check WX and conditions and find that we should leave 8-ish for a favorable crossing of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

We remember the fishermen saw whales yesterday, so we are hopeful.

Dr. Jake asks if we really have to go.  He got so much petting from the TugNuts.

Oh, well, I will always be happy as long as I am with my family.

With plenty of water in Mosquito Pass, we carefully navigate through the passage, watching the channel markers and leaving Buoy #6 to port.

We hug the shoreline as we enter Haro Strait and enjoy the beautiful scenery - - the rock that meet the water and display the colors showing the point of high tides, wheat colored grass needing rain water, awesome structure of trees and branches topped with various shades of green. 

Now in the channel with shipping lanes we see a container ship clipping along at 23 knots.  She leaves us in the dust and heads in the direction of Victoria.  We have San Juan Island on our port and Vancouver Island on our starboard.

We get a few rolls from the wakes and a bit of confused water here and there. After cruising at no wake speed between several small fishing boats at Andrews Bay, Herb increases to 16 knots.

Kayaks paddle near Lime Kiln Lighthouse and we see geese flying south.  It's that time of year.

As we near the southern tip of San Juan Island I take a photo of Cattle Pass, which separates it from Lopez Island and which can be rough at times.  We are very close to being in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and I am anxious to see it at calm.

Herb now maneuvers Willie's Tug to stay out of the northbound traffic lane and we watch intently to avoid the logs and sticks.  Swells as we enter the Strait catch us and cause us to wallow a bit.  I send the SPOT locator at 10:28A when we are not quite in the center of the Strait.

Always watching for ferries and other large vessels, Herb hears Orca Spirit Ventures on the Traffic channel report she is holding off...


He calls Bruce with this info, then Bruce calls back after seeing a spout.  We go into neutral.

The next several minutes are quietly exciting as we search the surface of the water for the orcas.

Following the NOAA Fisheries regulations of 200 yards and 400 yards, we stay back and I zoom my camera as far as it will go.  

It appears the whales are now behind the tour boat, which moves forward again.


I am not at all sure I have seen a fin of the tall and slender shape, so I eMail my friend Jim, who has run a whale watch boat in the islands for several summers. He tells me this one is the male, with a six foot fin.  He further says the reason I remember a different fin is because it is the female, who has a three foot tall fin.  They are more prevalent because they have a longer life span than the males.

I can't resist the sequence here as the male rolls under....

We finally continue south when we are clear of the orcas, and don't feel the need to talk.  It is a great moment.

The silence is broken by a call from Destiny and we have a delightful conversation with David.  Hope to see you and Maureen soon.


On edit: Ray Perry tells me The Teal was refurbished by some of his friends and sold or traded to someone he believes is the current owner.  He says she is a remarkable vessel with a remarkable history.

Find Willie's Tug and MoonShadow at Port Ludlow....

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Sunday, September 7, 2014

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