Alaska Flotilla: Leg 6, Day 6 – Patterson Inlet to Bishop Bay | NW Explorations


Alaska Flotilla: Leg 6, Day 6 – Patterson Inlet to Bishop Bay

We woke to a foggy but quickly clearing morning in Patterson Inlet.  Deception headed over to Patos this morning in order to top them off on water.  We have a water maker on board, but not all of the boats do.   In order for us all to stay out of port for a week, we share the water we make.  Just after 8am we were underway and had clear sunny skies for the rest of the day.

As we cruised down Principe Channel the wind picked up from the north and kicked up a following sea.  The waves weren’t too big and we still had a pretty smooth ride.  As we rounded the southern tip of Pitt Island we spotted humpback whales out in Nepean Sound.  There appeared to be quite a few of them, so we ventured out to watch.

We were so glad that we did!  We watched as a group of six or seven humpback whales fed cooperatively with one another.  This was the bubble net feeding we’d heard so much about!  This is a learned feeding technique that humpback whales in this area use.  A couple of the whales will dive and spiral down below a school of fish exhaling a “net” of bubbles that encircle the school and confuse the fish.  Once their prey is concentrated near the surface, the whales will swim up through the bubbles with their enormous mouths wide open, gulping down hundreds of gallons of water and up to a hundred pounds of fish in a single mouthful.

The excitement didn’t end there either.  After watching the bubble netters for a while, we moved on but could still see humpbacks spouting in all directions.  We came across another small group of whales that were very active.  We watched as they slapped their tails and pectoral fins, and we even saw multiple breaches!  We also had some very close encounters where the whales were only 10 yards or so away from our boats.  Change of Latitude hung back to watch the whales and also got to see killer whales fishing off the same point!

We made it into Bishop Bay in the late afternoon and rafted all five boats together (Discovery is off on their own, but we’ll meet up with them in a few days.)  Deception had Change of Latitude over for a lovely dinner of freshly caught halibut.  Most crews went up and enjoyed a soak in the hot springs.  Crab pots, kayaks, and fishing poles were dragged out and put to good use.  We enjoyed a warm evening and a fabulous sunset thanks to the hazy skies from the forest fires south of us.

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