The Green Cat


Today was amazing. We had great weather today as well as a warm night. It is the 1st day on the Gato Verde (the boat) and everything is going smoothly so far. Todd is wonderful. He is happy to explain anything we want to know about the boat as well as other any other local or seafaring questions we have.

After leaving the dock at FHL we headed strait to our anchoring area, which was a gorgeous place called Griffin Bay. On the way to Griffin Bay we had very little wind but we got to put up the schreecher, the very front sail that is used primarily in low wind conditions, and everyone got a turn at the helm. While under sail we saw a few proposes, an otter and a Rhinoceros Auklet (a very cool seabird that develops a ‘horn’ on its beak in the spring). After anchoring, a very loud experience, we ate dinner accompanied by the call of a Loon. We eventually managed to spot and saw a Blue Heron as well.

After night fell we were still exploring the boat and saw some sparkling in the water off the bow of the ship. Scott told us it was bioluminescent plankton. We tried to get them to bioluminescence more by dangling a rope through the trampoline (the net on the bow of the boat) into the water the but the noise it made when we moved it through the net was echoing around the boat so Scott gave us the boathook to use instead. That made them light up really well!

You could see them really far down, they kind of look like tiny fireflies. Very cool! We are planning on going to Neah Bay tomorrow to repair the hydrophone.



Today we headed out for Neah bay at 7:00. Toward the end of breakfast Kathryn spotted some transient orcas! We got to run along side of them for the next 6 hours!

We took turns taking pictures with the zoom lens for IDs. I decided to try and look through the pictures and try to figure out which Transients they were. After some scrutiny I figured out that the male that we saw was a Transient named T87. I further confirmed this after ID-ing his sister T90b.  It was very cool!

We followed the orcas down to Admiralty Inlet so we decided to dock at Fort Warden State Park in Port Townsend next to the Marine Science Center. We met the head of the Marine Science Center as well as the four very nice AmeriCorps women who work there and they let us go inside after hours and play in the touch tanks, which was a lot of fun.


Today was a very odd day. We decided to head back up to the islands and do a calibration type test for a project Jason, Scott, Val and a few others are doing before the instillation of the tidal turbines in Admiralty Inlet.

The light bulb deployment line.

We needed to put six light bulbs 10 meters apart on a rope, deploy it vertically in the water and drop a weight from the top causing each of the light bulbs to implode in turn while hydrophones recorded it from 100 m, 200m, and 400m. It sounds easy but in reality is full of logistic problems, which Libby Scott and I found while deploying the light bulb line from the inflatable dingy, affectionately named Gatito, in the middle of Admiralty Inlet while the 4 foot waves rocked us about.

Scott with the hat, Me in the black and Libby in the blue jacket.

We never got more than the first two light bulbs to break in about four hours of trying! We kept adjusting our attachment and weight deployment methods until the radio ran out of battery and then Scott’s telephone got too cumbersome to use. Welcome to field science!

By the time we got back to the boat we realized that with the wind, currents and time we wouldn’t be able to make it back to the islands before dark, so we decided to dock at the main harbor in Port Townsend. It was full of sailboats and the wind through the rigging made a wonderful sound like bells and chimes. It was beautiful!


We started early today, casting off at about 7:00. Horace and I were in charge of breakfast for that day so we were already up. The weather had turned foul during the night and after about 20 minuets out of the Harbor we realized that the winds were too strong, gusting to about 35 knots, and we wouldn’t be able to make it back to the islands. The seas were very choppy and because I was in the cabin cleaning up after breakfast I got pretty queasy. It wasn’t fun but at least I didn’t throw-up.

Me, Horace, Libby and Kathryn playing at Fort Ward

We quickly turned around and ended up docking at Fort Warden for the second time in three days. It was actually a good thing too because we had a chance to accomplish some things we hadn’t gotten around to yet.

First we got to learn the names of the different parts of the boat. It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it primarily because not only do almost all of the names make sense, but now I can respond properly to Todd’s requests.

Next, since we hadn’t listened to Libby’s hydrophone yet, we got to stick it into the Marine Science Center tanks to see if any of the creatures were making any noise. We were disappointed at how quiet they were. After that we stuck it through the floor to listen to the ocean. It was a good thing we did because there were some technical problems with the recorder, but we got them fixed pretty quick.

While we were in the Science Center there were a pair of otters which were mating in front of the boat and on the beach. We could hear them all the way from inside the building. It was pretty wild.

After that Scott took us to the Marine Museum and let us explore a bit before he taught us all about rocks and the geography of the area. He took us to the point down by the bunkers and we each tried to find some of the types of rocks he mentioned, igneous sedimentary and metamorphic. We had to smash some of the rocks open to get a better idea of what they were, which was very fun. Afterwards we threw an orange in the ocean to figure out which way the tide was going.

It was a very relaxing day.


Jason had to leave the boat at 5:30am to get back up to Friday Harbor to give a talk on some of the projects he is doing.

We left Fort Warden for Snug Harbor, at the North end of San Juan Island, around 9:00. On the way there the weather was perfect weather for sailing so Todd taught us how to raise and lower the mainsail and we got to do some sailing. It was a lot of fun even during the beginning when everyone was feeling a bit queasy.

We made great time and got to the head of Snug Harbor earlier than expected so we were able to do a plankton tow. We found some very cool critters, including a long translucent worm, some baby jellyfish and a few other larger predators.

Horace and Kathryn manning the camera

After getting into the harbor, and finding out that the Beam Reach mooring was in fact gone, we decided to search for it. We used the very cool SplashCam, which is an underwater camera, to search the bottom for the anchors. While searching the bottom with the SplashCam we got to see a lot of seaweed and one crab, which startled everyone into a fit of laughter. It was a lot of fun! We never did find the mooring but since we didn’t see any eelgrass, which is important habitat and rarer than it should be, we decided to drop anchor. After we brought the camera up and ate dinner, Scott went a shore to bring some things to Val and contact Jason, who hadn’t returned to the boat or contacted us yet. We watched the sunset and after it had gotten dark we got a call from Scott saying that his sister, Laura, had given birth to a healthy son named Tennessee Viers Martine and that he was staying the night at his parent’s. Laura’s new baby is super adorable by the way!


Jason and Scott came aboard after breakfast and we decided to head down to Lime Kiln to try and find one of the hydrophones that has been lost over the years. On the way down there were perfect conditions for sailing so we got some practice in for the race we were contemplating joining the next day.  We all got to man the helm as well as pull and release the Jib sheets. Kathryn and I hoisted the mainsail, not as easy as people make it look, and I got to release it.

When we got to Lime Kiln we deployed the SplashCam and got an amazing look at the various sea stars, clams, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, seaweed and fish that we ran across. Unfortunately the awesomeness ended when the screen went blank and Scott shouted for Todd to stop the engine. The cord had gotten wrapped around the Starboard engine and damaged in a few areas.

We couldn’t get the cord unwrapped from the boat, so Scott got into his wetsuit and snorkeling mask and had to dive in to un wrap it manually! A long time later, maybe 30 min to an hour, Scott unwrapped all of the cord and we were able to see the damage. It wasn’t too bad but damaged enough that they will probably have to splice the line. On our way back up to Snug Harbor we deployed the blue 4 hydrophone array as well as Libby’s hydrophone for practice. Everything went smoothly.

When we got back to Snug Harbor Scott and Jason went out in Gatito so Scott could snorkel to try and find the mooring anchors or ball. They were unfruitful. While they were doing that we all learned how to use a pressure cooker from Todd. It was very exciting!


Today we started out at about 9:00 so we could get readings for the temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen every 10 meters for 100 meters of the water that we did the plankton tow in a few days prior, before the race started at 11:00.

We participated in two of the races. It was a blast. During the first race we couldn’t get around the first checkpoint because our boat was too big to catch the little wind that came around the point the buoy was behind. But we did well after that.

During the second race we were doing very well at the beginning, but one of the other sailors got stuck on some rocks so we stayed it the area until he got free. Instead of finishing the race, since we were already going the correct direction, we decided to head up to Roche Harbor to pump the holding tank (sewage) before going up to Jones Island just Northeast of San Juan Island.

Jones Island is a gorgeous area! We got to learn how to tie to a mooring, but when someone left we moved to the dock so we could use the land heads. Before dinner, and the move to the dock, Todd showed us some knots we need to know. We learned the square knot, the bowline, the clove hitch, the girth hitch, the truckers hitch and a few others I don’t remember the names of. It was a lot of fun!

Libby Kathryn and I went for a walk and after playing on the West side of Jones Island heard from a couple that they had seen a pod of at least 12 orcas not 10 minuets prior that were traveling south past he point of Jones. We kept watch for a while but never spotted them. It was a really fun night.


Today we left early, got to Friday Harbor Labs around 9:00 and managed to clean down the boat in about and hour. Then we waved goodbye to Todd and went back to S1 for the next 4 days.(Gato Verde translates as Green Cat)


1 Comment

  1. Vickie

    May 4th, 2010 at 20:28

    You are awesome i have been reading along with you as your days pass by and find myself laughing and anticipating for your next blog. I miss your charm and beautiful smile and face I hope your having a BLAST i will keep reading to see whats going on thanks for writing a blog your the best!!!!! Oh some great pictures you have posted what a eye you have for nature

    Have a JOYOUS day 🙂 oh this is Vickie @ Living Well

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