Monday, April 24, 2017

San Juan Islands - Day 3 - Returning Home

Day 3 found us back on the boat at 9:30.  We thought we would head straight back to the John Wayne Marina, and eventually we got there.  But we took a very roundabout route. 
 Mark standing between the Glacier Spirit (left) and a very nice yacht.

On our third day we went chasing after more Orcas.  We found a pod of five transient Killer Whales.  First Mate Christopher is sure that the large male is T49A1.

We got great looks while Captain Christopher followed the whales.

We watched the whales for quite some time, then Captain Christopher announced “5 more minutes”.  The whales were giving us a great show.  About 15 minutes later, we really did have to go. 

We headed to Deception Pass.  Captain Christopher had heard on the radio that the weather would be very rough.  Winds recorded that morning up to 30 knots.  We went inside for lunch and got ready for a rough ride.

Deception Pass is the strait separating Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island.  It connects Skagit Bay, part of Puget Sound, with the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  A pair of bridges known collectively as Deception Pass Bridge cross Deception Pass, and the bridges are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Deception Pass Bridge up ahead.
A group of sailors led by Joseph Whidbey, part of the Vancouver Expedition, found and mapped Deception Pass on June 7, 1792.  George Vancouver gave it the name "Deception" because it had misled him into thinking Whidbey Island was a peninsula.  The "deception" was heightened due to Whidbey's failure to find the strait at first.

Deception Pass is a dramatic seascape where the tidal flow and whirlpools beneath the twin bridges move quickly.  During ebb and flow current speed reaches about 8 knots (9.2 mph), flowing in opposite directions between ebb and flood.  This swift current can lead to standing waves, large whirlpools, and roiling eddies. 
Did you notice the calm waters?  Yep, by the time we got to Deception Pass the winds had calmed and the ride was smooth. We didn't get to experience the excitement of high flows in Deception Pass, but it was certainly beautiful.

Back out on the Strait of Juan de Fuca we headed south past Smith Island Marine Sanctuary – an island in the middle of the sea that is home to thousands of seabirds and mammals. It was amazing to see the hundreds of animals massed on this small strip of rocks. 
Harbor Seals

 Hundreds of Dunlin with a few Sanderling

It's a little hard to see but this was our route for the 3 day tour:
Days 1 and 2 in purple.  Day 3 in red.
We pulled into John Wayne Marina about 4:30, grabbed our gear, and headed home.

We ended up seeing 3 life birds and 4 life mammals:

Marbled Murrelet
Yellow-billed Loon
River Otter
Dall’s Porpoise
Orca Whale
Steller’s Sea Lion

It was a wonderful trip!


  1. Quite the trip. We'll have to get contact info from you if we ever decide to brave the wet, rainy north again after this spring! It is pouring in Vancouver at the moment.....

  2. Nice trip. It looks like that is the way to get up close with nature.

    How many guests were on the trip?

  3. What a wonderful trip! Your photos and description allow us to enjoy it with you vicariously -- not as good as being there but almost!