Thursday, August 21, 2014

Just so you don't think it always goes like you plan...

I have said that driving the whale watch boat is like playing chess.  You make your move, you see what move they make, you make your next move.  If it all goes well, you win.  Well, today, we did get to see whales, but if they were Bobby Fischer, I was Curly from the 3 Stooges.

I had a good report: whales moving slowly south on the southwestern side of San Juan Island.  I actually said to my naturalist, "This should be an easy day."

I really need to not say that.

Checking for one last report as I left the harbor, it looked like our game plan was good.  Those crafty whales waited until I was half way down San Juan Channel... then, they decided to turn north.  And move fast.

I had to play "catch up" to get to them.  Fortunately, our boat is reasonably fast.  By the time I got to them, they were at the northwest side of the island - they were moving about 8 knots.  I had the tidal currents working against me.  Fishing boats with gill-nets making me run off course.

Pretty sure I could hear the whales laughing when we got to them.  They must have been the "only game in town," because there were plenty of boats on the scene... and by plenty, I mean it was crowded.  A couple dumbasses on an old sailboat were WAY too close to the whales, and in the process, they were blocking almost everyone's view.  I knew they were dumbasses, 'cause they were motoring their sailboat with their fenders handing out.  (Boat people will get that!)  The whales put on a good show, but dodging all the other boats was a challenge.

Then, the whales decided, "This is far enough north," and they turned around... making all the boats have to do a 180.  I know they were laughing at us.

When we were ready to leave, it was closer to Friday Harbor to just circumnavigate the island rather than run back south.

So, we didn't "lose" the game, but they made us work for it.

As we left the scene, I told the guests, "We'll be going north to get back to Friday Harbor.  I'll take us through Mosquito Pass on the way (it is shorter to go that route) - if you win the lottery, you can pick out your 'lottery house'."  One woman on the boat stopped at the office when we got back and told Joan, "I was disappointed that we left the whales to go look at houses."

Really?  That's what she got out of that??  That's what I get for trying to make the return trip interesting.  At some point, we do have to leave the whales... I stayed with them as long as possible.


I can tell it is getting to be late August.  People seem to get odder late in the season.  Just when you think you have heard everything... there have been several people come into our office after getting off the 3:00 ferry... they want to go whale watching and kayaking... and want to be on the 6:00 ferry back to the mainland!  By 3:00, all the whale watch boats are out on their last trips of the day.  No one offers a 2 hour whale watch, 'cause the whales aren't waiting for us right outside the harbor.  Our day-trip kayaking excursions are 3 hour or 5 hour - leaving from the other side of the island!

Seriously?  I'd like to go out for dinner and a movie... I have an hour to get that in.  LOL

Yeah.  It's August.  ;-)

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