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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Orca sighting at Cattle Pass

Boating season is well under way.  So far the weather has been amazing this summer with temps in the 70's and 80's... very rare weather pattern for the Pacific Northwest.  Typically we don't get this nice of weather until August.

Cast Away at Henry Island Dock

We started the boating season with the annual Potlatch event at Port Madison which took place over Father's Day weekend.  Potlatch is an annual family event for the SYC.  I really enjoyed the weekend with Brandon, Izzy and Mason.  However I think Mason had the most fun - playing from sun up to sundown. 

We have followed that trip with heading up to Roche Harbor and Henry Island in the San Juan Islands for the 4th of July holiday.  This is our second trip on Cast Away to the San Juans.  Crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca can be dramatically different each time you cross and is breathtakingly beautiful.  It is 100 miles long and 18 miles wide.  It can be rough seas or smooth as glass depending on the wind, tide and currents.  We've been really lucky both times we've crossed - the first time is was wide rolling waves and this time it was perfectly flat and calm. 

Mason Catches a Crab!
As we were entering the Strait last Saturday, I was struck by the beauty of the Salish Sea.  The waters of Puget Sound are nestled between the dramatic mountain-scape of the Olympic Peninsula and the Cascade Mountains - both still snow capped.  We had friends who crossed the day after us and they were not so lucky.  Although on both sides of the Strait, the weather was sunny and mild, for some reason the wind had whipped up on the Strait and they issued a small craft advisory.  The crossing for them had been quite rough and they were elated to have finally arrived at Henry Island.

The highlight for me this crossing was sighting the Orcas at the entrance of Cattle Pass.  I had never seen killer whales in the wild and it was a spectacular sight.  Someone later told me the whales we saw were part of L or H pod... Salish Sea residents.  There are approximately 89 Orcas in the Salish Sea pod.  We were fortunate to spot 3 or 4 of them surface.

If you zoom in you will see the two Orcas
While the Orcas were the highlight, we also spotted seals, a fox, dolphins, gray crane, eagles and believe it or not, a camel named Mona and a small herd of alpaca (at a farm on San Juan Island).

Boating in the Northwest is an experience of a lifetime... more to come!