December is a hectic time of year. In addition to all the Christmas rush there is my birthday and our anniversary. Last December 27 was crazy with family and travel, so we decided to celebrate our anniversary six months later. Little did we know that June 27 would be crazy with family and travel, too, but we decided to go ahead with our plans for a special day.
Neither of us had ever been on a whale watching trip, so we decided that would be our big adventure for the day. This being a week before a major holiday, it was tricky finding reservations. Fortunately, Island Adventures in Anacortes had space, so we booked our trip.
It turns out that this is the same company that I used for my kayaking tour last August when I was here. They followed the same procedures, too. We checked in at their main store, then reported over to the marina where we would board.
Captain Carl met us on the boarding ramp and went over safety procedures, then we boarded the Island Explorer 3. This was a good-sized boat, but much smaller than the ferries that we usually travel on these waters. We took places at stern of the boat where we had good views right and left. More safety instructions from our naturalist, Brooke, and by 11:30 am we were underway.
Today was supposed to be our “good weather” day, with sunshine and warm temps. That was not to be. It was overcast and misty. Regardless, we had nice views of Samish Island, Mount Baker, and the Cascades as we left the marina.
Not long after we got underway we saw one of the most unusual things I think I’ve ever seen – a swimming eagle. Our captain speculated that it had caught a fish that it didn’t want to relinquish. It was making good time swimming toward the shore, and was amazing to watch.
Our journey continued for what seemed like a long time. The company “guaranteed” that we would see whales, and we began to speculate what that actually meant. If anyone on board same something that might be taken as a whale, would that satisfy their guarantee? The further north we went, the more skeptical we became. We figured we could cause quite a stir simply by pointing emphatically in different directions.
For the most part, these were new waters for Laura and me. Our normal ferry route takes us on the other side of Orcas Island to Friday Harbor, then on to Sidney BC. This time we were on the east side of Orcas Island. Soon, though we were seeing places we’d been before we had reached the shipping lanes outside of Tawassan.
After a couple hours of cruising, we had finally reached the area where whales had been spotted. We were in Canadian waters at this point. Soon we were seeing spouts and dorsal fins of a pod of orcas.
The whales put on quite a show for us. There was one male identified as “Blackberry” by its tag, along with several others. One female was breaching with three jumps at a time. I was able to get a few good shots. I would miss the first jump, but knew that two more would usually follow.
Other whale watching boats joined us, and we stayed out for awhile watching the action.
It was time to head back. We’d had a great whale watching session, but it was a long way back to port. In all, we had traveled nearly 85 miles round-trip.
When we got back, we were dead tired. It was time for dinner, so for our the last part of our semi-anniversary, we looked for a place in Anacortes. After one miss, we found ourselves at Anthony’s. This is a new place right at the marina. The food was great, and the setting quite nice, but it was a bit overpriced.
Even so, it was an excellent semi-anniversary, and we thoroughly enjoyed the day.