Sunrise to sunset on the Salish Sea


Today was our first full day on the Gato Verde. Despite being bookended by fog (pea-soup in the morning and thin, wispy, romantic fog out of a painting in the evening) , we did find a little bit of sunshine in the middle of the day. The big benefit of fog is that it is often complemented with still water. In fact, we have yet to test the sea-worthiness of our stomachs as we had an entire day of completely smooth water (really like glass). Who knew the ocean could be like that? The disadvantage of fog is, of course, that it makes it hard to look for whales. Harbor seals, Stellar sea lions and porpoises all made appearances close to our vessel, but all reports indicated that our neighborhood orcas were off in international waters. Luckily, being bioacousticians, we were able to listen for whales as well using our hydrophone array and our fancy new high-frequency hydrophone. Alas, there was nothing but engine noise to be heard.* However, now that our equipment has been properly tested and proved itself to be up to the challenge of dealing with the rigors of the sea, we will be ready for the appearance of our lovely black and white friends on the morrow.

Of equal importance to the knowledge we gained about our hydrophones was the knowledge we gained about seamanship today. Not only did we learn about luffs and leeches (parts of a sail) but practiced our bowlines and half-hitches and sheet bends as well. We are in good spirits, well fed and learning a lot about each other, about whales, about research methods and about sailing. And, as we head to bed tonight, we are treated not only to cold, clear skies and a million lights above us, but also to cold, clear waters and a million lights (via bioluminescence) below.

Be there wind or be there whales tomorrow, we’ll be ready!

*Not our engines, however. We found out today why Captain Todd named our boat the Green Cat. It turns out that running on a combination of wind power, nearly silent electric motors and a bio-diesel generator that is not attached to the hull is not only good for avoiding disturbing the wildlife with noise, it’s also good for the environment by reducing emissions and using zero petroleum products for locomotion or cabin electricity.

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