its been awhile…

It has been far too long since I’ve “blogged” and much has happened. First and foremost, I’ve seen breaching Orcas and bow riding Dall’s Porpoise and its been great. There are only 3 weeks left of the course, unbelievably. In the 7 weeks we’ve been here we’ve been to Lime Kiln State Park, a short kayaking trip, a short sail on a Cal 20 with the Commodore of the local yacht club, developed research proposals including methodology, meet many interesting people including some well known killer whale researchers, and we’ve spent 3 weeks on a catamaran around the San Juan Islands. Our first two weeks were an adventure. The first week we mostly spent getting used the boat and learning about sailing as the whales weren’t around. The second week we had two encounters with the whales and perhaps as interestingly the propulsion system on the boat stopped working. Our relief captain stepped up to the challenge and although we had no propulsion and little wind we managed to spend another couple of days on the water until safely returning to the Friday Harbor Labs. To return to the labs we rigged the dinghy up at the stern between the two hulls and ran that 18hp engine which was able to push us back to the labs and allowed for decent steering ability using the catamaran’s rudder. Somehow that week every time we were docking with little/no engine capabilities and only light winds I always ended up at the helm. I don’t mean to brag but I did pretty damn well and am proud of myself, plus I really learned a lot over that interesting week. Our third week out on the boat, the propulsion was mostly fixed and we were back with the owner/captain. We had one great day with the whales and collected quite a bit of good data but then the disappeared for the rest of the week. We kept ourselves busy with data analyzing and reading while we drifted around in Haro Strait hoping to intercept the whales as the returned. Despite having no Orcas we had a couple of wonderful encounters with some Dall’s Porpoise. There was one day we were sailing at 5kts or so and a group of 6-10 came up and bow rode for at least 20 min. I was sitting up on the starboard bow seat and when the came up to breathe they were 3 feet away and it felt like I could reach out and touch them. With their distinct black and white shading we could see them as they swam around underwater near the surface. A couple of days later we were just drifting with the current in Haro and a group of Dall’s came up and played around the boat for maybe 30 min. It was great!


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