Archive for October 22nd, 2011

Volunteering for SoundWatch

Through Beam Reach’s Sustainability portion of the program, we (the students) get to choose projects to either educate the public or volunteer our time. One of the projects we all agreed on and decided we must do is volunteer for SoundWatch. SoundWatch is the boat that follows the orcas around and educates the public about the laws pertaining to them.

David scoping for whales

All four of us got our own day to volunteer for SoundWatch. I was the third one to go, and I was ecstatic because I had never experienced the orcas from a boat yet! A man named David Howitt picked me up, and we drove to the other side of the Island to Snug Harbor to meet Tyler, another volunteer. After getting my paperwork all squared away, I hopped in the boat with my mustang suite on (these huge orange suites that are very warm PFDs) and we went down to Eagle Point (south of the lighthouse) and found the orcas right away! It was incredibly calm. I was amazed at the amount of fishing boats that were out; I counted 60 from where we were at, and the orcas were right in the middle of them. It was insane! Right away it would’ve already been crazy to try to coax the boaters away from the pod’s path, so we just made sure everyone was stopped so that the orcas could go through. Thankfully they made it out of that mob of vessels safely. Wow, just hearing them breath all around you is breathtaking. It was incredible being out there.

Every half hour it was my job to record where we were (latitude and longitude), how many boats (and types of boats) were present, what the whale’s behavior was, and which pods we were following. Weather was also noted. I was also in charge of giving people a copy of the regulations with this long stick with a little clip. We were lucky, everyone was grateful that we were out there, and treated us well. I guess that doesn’t always happen.

Near the end of the day the whales moved further west, the crowd of boats surrounding them died down. I saw some bull kelp in the water and I thought “I want to try playing one of those…” I’d heard of people being able to play bull kelp, and some even do it to summon the orcas. I’m a music minor, so the idea was hard to pass up! David let me stop for some bull kelp and he cut the end off and made it into a horn! Bull kelp is a long hollow tube that slowly narrows as it gets longer, and it was surprisingly slimy! First David had a go, and being a past horn player himself, I would believe that he could summon the orcas with that sound. Then he let me try, and now I can honestly say I played kelp! Like any brass instrument, I could get a few notes out of the one piece of kelp, and we’d cut it to different sizes to get different sounds.








Not long after that there were only about 3 boats left out there. We did our count, and said goodbye to our black and white friends and called it a day.

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Sailing Around Cape Kellett Bluff

Ahoy...Captain Todd

Beam Reach is a program that provides extensive learning opportunities and self discovery for every participating individual.  Each person has their own personal experience, however different from another, and helps to broaden minds and mold a more rounded individual.  Among the many educational opportunities students were educated in sailing around Haro Strait was one of the most enjoyable.  The captain of the beautiful Gato Verde, Todd Shuster taught us the in’s and out’s of sailing.  To understand how “easy” Beam Reachers had it with only 3 sails (screecher, jib, and main sail) we watched an educational video on sailing “Around Cape Horn” made and narrated by Irving Johnson, which inspired the following video.  Once the basics were taught we put our knowledge to the test…

42' catamaran - Gato Verde

On October 10, 2011 each student had a round at being the helmsperson at the Gato Verde.  The helmsperson practiced calling jibes and crashing through the stormy waters off the coast of Kellett Bluff.  Students not driving the catamaran had to focus their concentration on helping the boat jibe.  One student on port and another on starboard when the helmsperson yelled “READY TO JIBE?” they respond “READY”.  The helmsperson, knowing the students were ready yelled “JIBING” and one student would release the jib sheet while the other would pull in the slack on the opposite side of the catamaran.  After jibing the Gato the working crew got to relax and enjoy the experience of sailing around “Cape Kellett Bluff”.  It was safe to say the 30 knot wind gusts made for an eventful and wet sailing experience.  Although the crew was chilled and soaked to the bone, the cargo did arrive safe and dry into Garrison Bay!

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