Well, my trip back out to the island was an adventure. It was the first time I have operated a boat in the fog completely on my own. I have been out in fog twice before, once while crabbing with someone else running the boat, and the other time while getting some training with someone else on board. I was a bit hesitant, but hey…you don’t learn if you don’t try.
We were going to take two boats out – I was heading back out to stay, and another crew was heading out to do some research and returning the same day. I left first, and was going to wait for the other boat. I got situated, got the fog horn set up, and headed out of John Wayne Marina to wait for the other boat. I decided to ease on ahead to get a feel for it and felt confident so I went on. The fog was pretty thick but cleared up a bit for just a brief moment. Then, as I proceeded out of Sequim Bay, it got quite heavy again and was that way all the way back out.
I had to navigate completely by GPS and compass, checking buoys and radar as well. There was no line of sight for anything. You can see water about 20-25 feet around you and everything else is stark grey. It is quite easy to go the wrong way on the water in conditions like that. You can get off-course so fast and so far. You think it is bad in a car, but at least you have pavement to follow while driving.
It was a lot of work, but the challenge was interesting and fun in its own way. I would like to have seen a breadcrumb trail of my path on the water to see just how much I wandered to and fro before getting on a straighter path using the compass more. It is not a straight shot from John Wayne Marina out to the island, so you have to work for it.
Needless to say I made it safely and still beat the other boat – albeit not by much. It was good experience and I now know I can handle it if the need arises and I have to be on the water in those conditions.
The last two days we have been doing bird surveys around the island, looking for feeding and nesting birds. We go out in the boat and watch where they go with food for their chicks and make note of the nests.
While doing this today we saw something quite incredible. There were many seals in the water and on the beach. There are a lot of seal pups now since it is the season for that. We noticed a large seal struggle to get onto the beach and did not think too much about it. We continued watching the birds and someone said “OMG… that seal is giving birth!”. We immediately all focused on the joyous event, and I got to see the last part of the birth. About 15 minutes later, we saw it take its first swim. That was really something to witness that occurring, and I would think that not many people get to see that happen.
Just one more cool thing I have been fortunate enough to be involved with on the refuge.
My time here on Protection Island is just now past half over as of July 1st. It is really hard to believe that three months has already passed since I came out here. It has really been quite an experience so far. Not many ever get an opportunity like this and I do realize how fortunate I am to be able to be here.
It has been a whirlwind of exciting things in 2014 for me, and more is yet to happen. Boat training in Pearl Harbor, moving off Dungeness NWR, moving out here, and trying to figure out my next move.
Since I am trying to stay in this area I have started looking for a job to make that possible. I would really like to stay in the natural resources field, but I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible here or not given the job situation though.
I got a lot done to the bike this past weekend in preparation for our Oregon road trip next week. Oil and rear drive fluid changes, new K&N air filter, new plugs, suspension adjustments, wash and wax…it was a busy one. We have pretty much all we need so all that is left is the packing and riding. I am converting the square headlight over to a round one, and I got it in the mail this past week so all I need to do is mount it but it may take a bit of fiddling with it to get it right. From what I read from several different people who have done it was that the headlight I got off an older V45 will pretty much bolt right on. I am not quite sure if I will have the time to do it before we go, but it will be on there sooner rather than later. Square headlights never looked good on cars, and even worse on Jeeps and motorcycles.
It wasn’t so busy we were not able to get out for a ride however! We got in a 60-70 miles Tuesday night west of Port Angeles on Highway 112. What a fantastic road to ride, and I say it every time I ride it and have had it in my blog before. Ups and downs, twists and turns, mountains, the Strait, rivers, farmlands, trees…a nice two-lane adventure for a trip that is short or long. I rode the bike all around the whole weekend and the weather was absolutely spectacular. We had 70s and close to 80 here. What a great place to be!
Crab season started today, but I completely forgot to get my catch card. I have not eaten any since last season so it is definitely time! It is going to be busy out on the water, especially in the early part of the season. John Wayne Marina was pretty jammed with crabbers today when I was coming back out, and with the holiday weekend it oughta be crazy.
Today I got to see my first baby pigeon guillemot. He was a day or two old and was so cute! A few days ago I saw some ducklings with their mom. The gulls are hatching as well, and today I saw a seal pup pop up by my boat when I was out on the water patrolling…it is that time of the season here on Protection Island.
Today was a beautiful and sunny day here – at lunch it was 72 degrees – and the water was great. I was out patrolling the island and was looking at all the wildlife. Lots of tufted puffins, rhinoceros auklets, gulls (of course), eagles, seals, and pigeon guillemot. Everyone in the pool!
I was slowly bringing the boat around on the port side to go back east and much to my surprise there was a whale surfacing about 25 feet in front of my boat! Crikey!
I tried to get pictures, but they did not come out at all. I do not know how many there actually were, or even what kind. It/they surfaced 4-5 more times and then I didn’t see any more. I think it was maybe anywhere from one to three of them, and I am guessing the length at about 20-25 feet. I am going to do some more research and try to figure it out.
That was really an unexpected treat to see!