Thursday, July 14, 2016
A very different boat experience...
Today, I went out on Kestrel. I haven't driven this boat before, so this was my introduction/training; yes, with guests. The owner, Brian, is the only one who has been driving this boat so far this season. It is a different animal from our other boats: fast, and open. Oh, there is a top on it, but it is a "wind in your hair" experience.
It is considered a RIB: rigid hull inflatable; mostly a big metal boat with the inflatable type surrounding on the hull. When I say fast, it will run twice the speed of the boat behind it (one that I usually drive in Friday Harbor), or about 3 times the speed of the Roche Harbor boat. The helm is behind a windshield, but when the spray is flying, it is good that we are wearing exposure suits (Mustang float coats and bibs). Yes, crew and guests.
Brian visited with guests before we headed out...
I helped check and prep the boat, but mostly this was "listen and learn" for me. I have plenty of experience with twin engine diesel boats - this is our only twin (all the other boats are single engine) diesels) - and did I mention: fast? It is a stable, comfortable ride.
Seemed like we were on the whales in no time...
The residents (Southern Resident Killer Whales) are in the area, and it is SO good to have them back. We viewed in one location for a while, then moved to another. Quickly. There were a lot of J-Pod whales moving south, so we were able to sit with the engines off as they moved by.
The guests were enjoying the viewing. The weather weasels had predicted single digit winds from the south... close: it kicked up to the upper teens from the west. The waves built to 2 to 3 feet pretty quick, and this boat handled that with no issue. Oh, there was a bit of spray flying, but the ride was comfortable. I was happy to be wearing the exposure suit, though.
In through Cattle Pass and a stop to check out some seals and a fledgling eagle. Then, back to the dock. It is a lot more work at the end of the trip - you have to hang up all those exposure suits, then go back and clean up the boat and put it away.
Interesting experience. Preference? Oh, I'll drive whatever they schedule me for. The next two days, I have long shifts on our Roche Harbor boat. Slower. Hope the whales hang around.