Late Friday night, Justine and I got a text message from our friend Al, inviting us out on the boat with him on Saturday. Saturday was a spectacular, clear and sunny day, even if it was a bit cold. Al had recently bought a new boat, and was looking to get it on the water. The new boat ("Spring Time") is a lot smaller and faster, enabling day trips during the short winter months.
We were a little early for the start of the trip with Al, so we wandered around near the marina for a bit. There were lots of birds around, including a huge flock of sandpipers and even a bald eagle up in one of the trees right in the park.
As I mentioned, it had been very clear and cold. Strangely enough, the marina had actually frozen over during the night. It was a bit strange given the whole salt water thing, but we had to do the ice breaker thing on the way out. There was enough ice that we left a channel through the ice behind us as we past. There were lots of cool birds in the marina too, including some common goldeneyes, which are very cool little diving ducks.
Once out on the water, we had lots of encounters with lots of different wildlife. It's interesting to see the difference between the winter and summer for spotting wildlife. There's so much more going on in the winter. There are tons of birds, we saw deer on almost all the islands. There is one island in particular that used to be a private island that was owned by some guy that brought in lots of different animals for hunting. On that one, we saw a herd of big horned sheep, as well as bald eagles and even a sea lion. The big horned sheep seemed a little odd.
Not long after the island we got chased down and stopped by the US Homeland Security. Not sure what they thought we were up to, or maybe it was just a slow day but we got an up-clode look at their very cool, very fast boat. They gave me the third degree because of all the stamps in my passport, but we were back on our way after a short stop.
Our day got even better a little while later when we saw a small pod of orcas. They were fairly far away, but we saw lots of fins and blow spouts. It was probably only five minutes or so, but it was pretty cool.
We stopped for lunch in Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. It was pretty quiet relative to the business of the little port we were used to during the summer. We had a nice lunch in the only restaurant that was open for lunch.
After lunch we cruised around a bit, checking out some of the islands and looking for more whales. We didn't have any luck on that front - lots of seals and porpoises - but had a great time cruising on a perfect day. Our last stop was at Patos Island, the location of a great little lighthouse. I've shot that lighthouse before, and got one of my favourite photos.
On the way back in to the marina, there were a few good shots of some bald eagles and other birds, just as the sun was setting.