December 5, 2005
Friday we were far offshore, and were actually off Mexico(!), between Tijiuana and Ensenada. Funny how the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone swings south down there. It was a neat day, we had two sperm whales (bringing the total to 3 for the trip). One got really close off the bow. We also had a loggerhead turtle.
That night we knew that the seas were picking up, but awoke on Saturday to a terrible day, 30 knot winds and 14 foot swells! Not only could we not work, but it was unadvisable to go out on deck since the water was even crashing over the flying bridge. Our poor boat creaked, groaned, and rattled, but luckily held. Unfortunately my stomach did not.
It was a long day, you could barely walk, much less read, work on a computer, or anything else. We decided to run from the storm and made it to the Channel Islands by the wee hours on Sunday morning. It had completely calmed down, it is amazing how fast the weather changes.
It was great to see landmasses again. Sunday we were so close to the coast , we could actually read road signs on Hwy 101 through the big-eye binoculars. We were hoping the Islands would bring us lots of sightings, but besides some dolphins it was fairly quiet. Sunday night brought bad news, our promise of the last few days remaining coastal was ended. They wanted us to finish the survey line we had left on Saturday, so we turned around and ran all night back offshore. It was such a tease, to be so close to land and then head west.
It ended up being worth it though, it was the day of baby whales! We had a tiny Fin whale, probably just weaned from its mother a couple months ago, as well as a tiny Humpback that probably still should have been with mom. We must have scared the sh!# out of them, they both took huge poops that floated on the surface for awhile. The whales were hard to get good looks at. They made us turn circle after circle trying to get good photos, but both were so close to the boat you could see them underwater.
We then turned back around and today are off Catalina. We can even see the Hollywood sign in L.A! Lots of dolphins today, four different species including, finally, finding tersiops (bottlenose dolphins). We also were in a school of a couple thousand common dolphins, the water was literally boiling with them.
Tonight we are going to be rewarded with landing at Avalon, Catalina, for a liberty call of a few hours. It will be weird to stand on firm ground and drink a beer. Tomorrow we will spend the whole day unloading the boat, followed by an end of cruise celebration!
© 2005-2006 Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association. All Rights Reserved. Last updated 03/21/11.