Sunday, July 27, 2014

A morning on the dock, and Welcome Back!

I was sitting in Wild Blue's cockpit, playing my guitar and enjoying the quiet.  Joan had to go to work early, I didn't have to go in until the crack of noon (my favorite).

There is a main dock 50 feet or so behind our boat; on weekends, especially, there is a constant parade of people.  This morning, two things made me chuckle.  Let me say that I really enjoy animal behavior... and people are some of the most interesting animals.  ;-)

Teenagers tend to travel in packs.  Like wolves.  But not as well mannered.  This morning, there was a herd of teenagers on that dock.  Well, a small herd - like 8 or 9.  Two females, the rest males.  No, I have no photos of this, so you'll have to paint a mental image.  One female was definitely the alpha: tall and curvy.  She was wearing black short-shorts and a flowy white top.  The other female looked more like one of the young boys.  Wearing a sweatshirt.  The curvy one announced, "It is really hot!" and slowly peeled off the flowy white top.  Every boy's chin dropped.  The other girl looked on in envy.  Oh, the curvy girl was wearing a black bikini top under the shirt... and she knew just what she was doing.  She did it well.

The other event: there is a beautiful sailboat behind us.  We occasionally see a young couple having a meal in the cockpit.  Today, the girl was going to do her first attempt at backing the sailboat out of the slip, rotating, and heading away.  Her turn out of the slip was rather abrupt.  She shifted from reverse to forward with gusto - the pretty little boat was heading directly for the dock and another boat!  The guy was on the bow... instead of holler at her to slow down, he jumped off the bow just before the boat was going to smack it, shoved the bow off enough that it also missed the nearby boat, then jumped back on the bow.  I was impressed by his athleticism, but mostly I was amazed that there was no hollering.  He said (not loudly), "We'll do that a bit slower next time."  Smart guy.


I knew we were going to have a good day at work today: the Orcas are back!  They were on the west side of the island early this morning.  I received that report several hours before I had to be to work.  Driving a faster boat today, I knew I would be able to catch them.  Then, an hour before our departure, the pods split up: one group going north up Haro Strait, another group going northeast into Boundary Pass, and the third group heading south.  I was going to have to make a decision on what way to go.

The early boats had gone north.  I didn't have much of a report on the southern group.  My choice was to take the southern group - fewer boats, and they would be moving towards me, not away.  A half hour out, they changed directions and were heading north.  No worry - I knew we would be fast enough to catch up with them.

Turns out they went north a bit, then back south again.  We had a very nice viewing.  For the first hour or so, there were only two other whale watch boats, so every one had lots of room.  Two sailboats sailed almost on top of the whales.  It isn't just the powerboaters who do that.

We had a lively group on the boat.  They were having fun watching and asking questions of our naturalist.  Well, one guy was having a bit too much fun... in the safety orientation, I tell them, "No tobacco products, no alcohol, and no glass containers on the boat..."  One guy thought he was being sneaky when he went to the head and poured red wine into a coffee mug with a lid on it.  The naturalist came to the helm to tell me one lady was upset that this guy "wasn't following the rules."

Yes, sometimes my job is like chaperoning first graders.  ;-)  I had to come down from the helm and, as discretely as possible, explain to the guy that I had his safety in mind.  He said, "I'm not drinking anything."  His breath told a different story.  I had to make myself a bit clearer for him.  The guy understood, didn't cause any problem, and the tattle-tale lady got to look smug.  Win/win/win.  I told the naturalist to keep a very close watch on the guy so he didn't trip and create a lot of paperwork for me.  ;-)   No more issues the rest of the trip.

Back at the dock, happy guests.  The wine-sneaker left us a very nice gratuity.

Happy crew, too.  It is "Friday" for me and the naturalist.  This was a very good way to finish off the work week... so happy to have our Orcas back.

I didn't take a camera to work today, so the only photos I had time for were on the way south in Haro Strait, with my phone...

Cattle Point Lighthouse with Mt. Baker in the background...

A beautiful, warm (only 3 layers while driving the boat) day in the San Juan Islands.  :-)

We're havin' a heatwave...

No, not a tropical heatwave.

Watching Seattle news this morning, one of the weather weasels was saying "Warm days ahead!  Will we break the hot streak we had earlier where there were 12 consecutive days with the temperature above 80º?"

Really?  Above 80º?  Back home, we'd call that November or March.  ;-)

Oh, I understand it isn't what this area is used to.  Come to the San Juan Islands - it is always cooler here than around Seattle.  Dryer, too.  Yesterday was typical "San Juan Islands nice" for summer.  The weasels said our high for the day was around 74º.  I had 4 layers on while on the boat in Haro Strait.  I was able to get it down to only 2 layers when we were back at the dock.

Joan has an adventure planned for us for tomorrow, and she thinks we can wear shorts.

For the record, we have run the heat all but one night on the boat... and we were tired and went to bed early that night.  And turned on heat as soon as we woke up.  Our boat is more protected at the helm than either of the two boats I drive for work.  I can wear shorts in our boat.  ;-)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

All for one...

No, nothing to do with the Three Musketeers.  We had an early charter today... one guy chartered the boat.  That's a first for me.  I will say that he certainly received individual attention.  ;-)  His own naturalist to point out and explain things along the way.

Another beautiful day in the San Juans.  Abundant sunshine and not much wind.  Another day where the Orcas were on vacation.  Decent Minke viewing, and some sight-seeing, as we made a circumnavigation of San Juan Island, went north around Spieden Island, through the Cactus Islands, and out around Flattop before heading back to Friday Harbor.

It was mid-afternoon when we got back... and my Honey hadn't been able to get away for lunch.  Lunch together, and it isn't even a day off.  That made my day!

Friday Harbor is hopping!  LOTS of people in town.  There is an Air Show and Fly-In happening today.  Busy, busy.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Minkes and eagle-palooza...

The resident Orcas are like Elvis: they have left the building.  And by building, I mean: the Salish Sea.  The last report on them had them moving west way out in Juan de Fuca.  I really hope they come back soon.  Very soon.

We have had a wonderful season with the resident Orcas.  So far.  On the rare days they weren't around, we have managed to find some transient Orcas.  Oh, on occasion, we have had to cover some miles to do it, but we have been very fortunate with our Orcas viewings this summer.  I do not take that for granted.

Today, there were no reports of Orcas.  Not north around the Frazier River.  Not west in Juan de Fuca.  No reports.  I was driving out of Roche Harbor today.  I decided to go north, hoping to find some transient Orcas.  No transient sightings today.  (Sigh)  The guests could tell we were working hard in our search.  We had some very nice people onboard on both trips today.

The first trip was a family charter.  Big family.  They were up for fun...

That is mostly grown-ups lying on the bow.  And, our naturalist visiting with them...

The second trip was not a charter, our regular scheduled outing.  More fun people...

Blissfully flat water.  We had to go north quite a ways to see a Minke; but it was a lovely trip with that water condition (especially after yesterday's "white water" trip).

And this one is for my Honey, 'cause she likes "sparkly water"...

That's what it looked like on the way home.  Lots of eagles both trips.  A Golden Eagle made a low pass right over the boat.  More bald eagles than I've seen this season.  Some very playful seals... fun for the guests to see, but I knew we weren't going to find transient Orcas with the seals out playing like they were today.

Reasonably warm.  Sunny.  Beautiful water.  A fine day to be out on a boat.  Only one thing would make it better.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blowing like stink...

I had an early charter.  Checking weather before we left, the weasels were calling for winds 12, seas 1 to 2 feet where I intended to go.  On the way there, the winds were gusting above 25 mph; seas quickly built from 2... to 3... to 4, with occasional 5s.  My Momma didn't raise no dummies - we turned so we were running with the waves (instead of on the beam, 'cause that is very uncomfortable), and got behind a small island for some temporary comfort.

The guests were great - from New York, and they were boaters.  Their first time in the San Juans, but they said they were fine with the conditions.  I checked on them a couple times during the trip, and they were, indeed, doing just fine.  When we were coming back in, one of the larger passenger boats (100') called us to ask the conditions - they were heading out from the protection of San Juan Island, towards our position... they came out, saw what we were heading in from, and they turned around and went back.  I did tell 'em what it was like.  ;-)

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny, with light winds... we'll see.

The guitar playing was mellow this evening... I am really liking that all mahogany.

Don't know how they do it...

Yeah, there's a lot of things I don't understand.  ;-)

It started raining late Tuesday.  Rained all day yesterday.  It is raining this morning.  I know people up here go weeks at a time during the winter without seeing sunshine.  Oh, there are those famous "sun breaks" of 30 seconds or so that get reported on the local news.  But, I don't know how people who live here cope with all the gray and the rain.

I am scheduled for an early charter this morning.  In the rain.  I'll let a smile be my umbrella.  Have to - I don't have an umbrella.  ;-)  (But, I do have rain gear!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rainy days and Wednesdays...

Wednesday is the last of our three days off.  It has been nice having a regular schedule.  We awoke this morning to rain... first precip we've had since the 4th of July, and the first significant rain since May.

I am glad to not be driving today.  We were notified that a charter that was scheduled for this morning was moved to tomorrow, so I will be going in early.  And rain forecast for tomorrow, too.

Last night, a dock neighbor who also plays guitar came by our boat and asked me if I'd like to go with him to some friends' place to jam.  My fingers were already sore, but I couldn't pass it up.  My fingers really feel it this morning... I guess I should have been practicing more to keep my callouses tougher.

Most of our weekly "chores" are done; there won't be any scooter riding in the rain; guess this will be a relaxing kind of day.