Leaving a comfy dock in a comfy port is always hard. Carol and Teri from Discovery were on shore searching for one last drop of civilization, in the form of a cinnamon roll, before we sailed again for the wilderness. Alas, time, tide, and baked goods wait for no woman, so we were off the dock at 8 AM before the store opened.
A nearly-full moon set just before we cast off, leaving us with another beautiful blue-sky day. We had good wildlife luck again with more humpback whales feeding along the shorelines and, frankly, all around us. We saw a raft of about a dozen sea otters an amazingly, yet another elephant seal. Nobody on board has seen as many elephant seals in the rest of their lives as we have in the past week. The number of the giant beasts in these waters is without precedent in our experience.
The best sighting of the day, though were ORCA! We were cruising close to shore, heading south in Fitzhugh Sound when three fast-moving orca heading north passed between us and the rocks. Since there are only perhaps 750 of these animals between Seattle and Prince William Sound, it was a rare pleasure to see them. The fact that there were only three and that they were hunting right at the shore suggested that these were mammal eating orca. Their prey is primarily harbor seals, which are wary of these apex predators. Thus, to catch their dinner the orca have to move quickly and quietly in small groups. No doubt they were hoping to find a seal sunning itself, feeling relaxed on such a nice day. What a special thing it is to see these largest members of the dolphin family in their native habitat. Brian celebrated the visit with his traditional headdress.
As beautiful as the day started, the forecasters at Environment Canada were calling for an end to our sunny, calm streak. As prudent mariners, we “got while the gettin’ was good.” Rather than wait to see if the winds picked up as forecast, we extended our day to reach Blunden Harbour. Having passed Cape Caution, we were across the most open part of the route in relatively moderate seas, and have a much shorter run to do tomorrow, no matter what the weather. Hats off to captains and crews for a full day of sailing!
As if this wasn’t enough excitement for the day, we had some good birds right in Blunden Harbor. The Red-throated loons were crying their mournful wail as we were anchoring. The Rhinoceros auklets had luck with their fishing and several had large herring in their bills. The fact that they did not eat them on the spot and flew off with them suggested that they had young to feed in their burrows. Finally, Cathy on Patos spotted a peregrine falcon buzzing the harbor at high speed trying for a gull for dinner. This fabulous bird was species #50 for the trip, a worthy milestone.