October 31, 2017 – Today we got word of a humpback whale just north of our harbor. So, we jumped in the skiff to get a quick look. We believe this humpback whale was BCY0160 ‘Heather’. She passed by Friday harbor two days before with ‘Crater’.
October 29, 2017 – It was a fall day on the water where those bursts of sunshine felt so good. There were not as many sea lions on Whale Rocks as normal. Some were rafted up in groups acting social and others were spread all over presumably fishing. A large group was gathered behind Goose Island in the shallows. South of Long Island we arrived on scene to see the transient killer whale family known as the T2C’s enjoying their lunch as the gulls circled looking for scraps. This is a special orca family for many reasons. T2C2 is a 12 yr old male orca who has scoliosis. He is fully dependent on his family to hunt and share the meals with him. They must have patience to wait for him to keep up as he constantly lags behind due to his disability. After their meal the whales socialized and played in a tactile group which was fun to see. Sailing in some strong gusty winds clenched our decision to reef the main sail to make things more manageable. Tacking back in forth in Griffin Bay with orcas, and to our surprise David found two humpbacks in the distance heading our way. We obtained some off angle photos but believe the humpbacks to be BCXukKeta2015#2 “Nike” and BCX1057 “Divot”. This is the 3rd day in a row that a pair of humpbacks has gone down San Juan Channel passing Friday Harbor!
October 28, 2017 – Today felt like a repeat of yesterday. We finished up with some boat maintenance and popped out of the harbor to find two humpbacks traveling down the San Juan Island shoreline. It was stunning – backlit blows are so beautiful. The humpback whales were BCXukKeta2014#1 ‘Crater’ and BCY0160 ‘Heather’.
October 27, 2017 – As our season is slowing down it’s time to get started with maintenance on ‘Peniel’. Barbara did the brightwork while David prepped for painting the cockpit. After our hard days work, we thought it would be fun to take the skiff out and spend some time on the water. Not even 5 minutes of sitting outside of the harbor, David sees 2 humpback whales! No boats were with them. Barbara was able to ID them as MMX0006 and BCX1193 ‘Zig Zag’. The pair travelled past Friday Harbor, over to Turn Rock, into Griffin Bay, and out through Cattle Pass in the sunset. As we were watching the whales on their last surfacing, up pops what looks like a sea otter. We included one grainy photo in the post. A few days later a sea otter was seen near Lopez in the kelp just south of where we saw it. This is a rare sighting for us and cool to see even if just for a moment.
October 1, 2017 – Good winds for sailing around the San Juan Islands. Up Presidents Channel with the harbor porpoise checking out the Orcas Island coast before crossing over to Waldron Island to sail under gorgeous Pt Disney. Many cormorants and harbor seals on White Rock. New Channel never disappoints – especially since we watched a bald eagle steal a huge fish from a harbor seal! Our timing was perfect to see this event play out. We were excited to hear news of transient orcas around the corner headed our way. It was the T123’s who entered Spieden Channel and traveled over to Flattop Island and onto Pt Disney. A sunset and several smiles warmed the boat on our way back to the harbor.
September 30, 2017 – Our trip began with a harbor seal eating a humungous salmon that looked as big as he was. Gulls wanted some of it, too. South down San Juan Channel along the Lopez coastline with a pit stops to see the various birds and harbor seals sunning on the rocks. Sea lions moaned and groaned at Whale Rocks as the sky began to let down some drizzle. We circumnavigated San Juan Island spotting a distant minke whale surface a couple times. We also saw what looked to be an elephant seal offshore of Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse. It felt like the rain wasn’t going to let up with all the sudden sprinkles… but the sun came out in the end. Our favorite part of the day was entering New Channel. Gorgeous light, several bald eagles, drifting in the peace and quiet as we ate our supper. We returned to port to see a beautiful sunset.
September 25, 2017 – Gray, cloudy days can be beautiful in the Pacific Northwest especially when you’re out on the water. Excellent lighting for photography where the colors of nature just pop. So many harbor seals hauled out on Flattop and Skipjack Islands – both National wildlife refuges. Cross the border into Canada to explore the Saturna Island shoreline beginning at Monarch Head, a dramatic cliff with honeycomb sandstone holes embedded within. Bald eagles, great blue herons, black oyster catchers. Java Rocks with its own busy eco-system. Dinner in New Channel drifting in peace and tranquility followed by chocolate birthday cake!
September 24, 2017 – Another day, another adventure! There were harbor seals hauled out at Low Island and several steller sea lions swimming near Green Pt. Some of the “exotic” animals on Spieden Island stood grazing. Excitement filled the air as we saw distant blows of a pair of humpbacks in Haro Strait. We joined travels with BCY0160 ‘Heather’ and BCX0158 ‘Kappa’ all the way to Pender Bluffs. We took the Johns Pass shortcut to enjoy the splendor that surrounds this gorgeous channel. While we were drifting in New Channel up pops a minke whale! What a cool surprise! Winds picked up during our journey home making the heeling quite exciting. That’s what sailing is all about.
September 23, 2017 – We ventured south out of Cattle Pass to meet Southern Resident killer whales from J and L pods. The orcas came down Rosario Strait and around Lopez Island to forage on the west side of San Juan Island. It was whale soup – whales everywhere you looked. Glassy seas and a mackerel sky. Drift sailing in paradise listening to whales breathing in all directions in the distance. We witnessed several orcas chasing fish, and we hope they caught some big ones.
Sadly, our hearts are crushed to share some devastating news. As of Sept 19th, J52 was declared deceased by the Center for Whale Research. He was last seen on Sept 15th looking emaciated and revealing severe “peanut head”. As we watched his 18 yr old mother, J36, just one week after, our minds wondered what she may be feeling. These animals are highly emotional. Our hearts go out to her as she carries on following such a tragic loss. The rest of the J16’s were nearby foraging except for J50 who was busy playing with a piece of kelp. She revealed her teeth to us as she spy hopped holding it in her mouth. It is so important that we help our orcas – they need fish!