Christine shot this video on her cellphone.
Christine and I were taking a lunch break from cleaning up our sailboat today when I checked the Orca Network Facebook page. The resident pods (normally in the San Juan Islands) have been hanging around Seattle for a couple of weeks eating fresh salmon chum, but we never saw them when we were out on the sailboat. Today was our turn!
The most recent post said they were last spotted off of Alki Beach and were heading north. Alki is about an hour’s sail south of us, so we got the boat out of our slip and headed south to find them. I kept an eye on my phone for updates on their location and about the time that someone reported seeing them off of Magnolia we looked over and found them about half a mile away off of our 10 o’clock. I tacked the boat in their direction and slowed until we were a safe distance away (about 200 meters). We hove-to (slows the boat down to a crawl) and floated along side until they’d passed. We then sailed slowly under our main sail, keeping speed with them and going along side the group (always trying to stay the required 100 meters away). It was magical when we were out there alone, just us an the Orcas, and no sounds but them breathing. The silence was broken for a few minutes as another sailboat came motoring past and then crowded into them, but eventually he turned off his motor and sailed along with us too.
When the second part of the video was shot it was hard to stay the safe distance away. The group had split suddenly and most of them went in between our boat and the other one. As we tried to move away from them (you can hear Christine asking me why I’m sailing away from them at 1:45 in the video) the other part of the pod started to surface on our starboard side. I slowed the boat even further to let them pass before we headed back. It was an amazing hour of watching the Orcas.
It’s time to start leaving a decent older digital camera on the sailboat, this cellphone footage isn’t great (especially from using the digital zoom), but it’s what we’ve got.