Dalls porpoises riding on the David B’s Bow
Something I look forward to every year when we are running trips on the David B are the occasional visits by Dalls porpoises. These mid-sized sea mammals that looks deceptively like baby killer whales love to surf bow wakes. We often see them in the Inside Passage and Alaska. Usually they are foraging for fish, but sometimes, they turn their attention to the David B. It begins with seeing their characteristic rooter-tail splashing a ways off, and with surprising speed, they soon rush up alongside of the boat, and then they begin jockeying for the prime spot just in front of the boat’s stem. It’s a thrill to watch their speed and their agility.
Here’s a little complication of a few of the amazing experiences we’ve had with surfing Dalls porpoises.
I heart the David B
Our guests love the David B! Since we only take six guests on the boat per cruise, we work hard to make sure your time onboard the David B is unique, authentic, and special. I think that’s what makes our cruises in Alaska, the Inside Passage, and the San Juan Islands, so different from small ships that carry 50 or 60 passengers is that we get the time to know you as a person. On the David B, you are not just another passenger on another trip. We really do care about you and we really do hope you’ll join us!
Over The River and Through the Woods
Last summer Jeffrey and I were standing on the back deck talking with one of our guests. He said to us that one of the best things about the David B was how much being aboard the boat reminded him of all the comforts of being at his grandma’s house. We’ve been thinking about that this winter. Here’s the first part of a series that we originally published in our newsletter.
If you can’t see the newsletter below here’s a link to the newsletter.
Kayaking at Sucia
Low tide is one of the best times to kayak at Sucia Island. One sunshine-y fall day I took several of our guests for a paddle along the wind-and-wave-sculpted sandstone that makes up Sucia. My guests were agreeable to a slow paddle where we could inspect the sea life that lives just below the surface. The easiest animals to find were sea stars: giant pink stars, purple sea stars, sunflower stars, and leather stars. A few of the purple sea stars and leather stars were exposed on the rocks giving us the opportunity to reach out and feel the difference between the two species.
Below our kayaks we watched several types of small fish including a school of bay pipefish that look like a straightened sea horse. There must of been many other fish in deeper water even though we couldn’t see them, since we spotted several seals hunting.
We glided along, talking about the creatures hidden in the rocks and seaweed. We discovered many of them by focusing on the slightest movements or a differences in color. We found chitons, sea urchins, sea anemones, crabs, and two kinds of sea cucumbers — the California sea cucumber and the orange sea cucumber. We could have spent all day looking and watching the intertidal world and not see it all.
Our paddle lasted about two hours. I was a little reluctant to end our time at Sucia, but it was nearing lunchtime and time to return to the David B. Besides we had other adventures awaiting us.
Where’s the Salish Sea?
Most of the time when I talk about cruising on the David B, I say that we’re cruising the San Juan Islands, or Gulf Islands, but it turns out that we spend most our time cruising the Salish Sea. Find out where the Salish Sea is by visiting my blog over at Yachting Magazine.
Jeffrey’s Got Us Organized
Having an eighty-plus year-old wooden boat is a lot of work, and it is sometimes hard to decide which projects are the most important to tackle. For instance, do we re-do the pilothouse, or install a new heating system? When should we start work on the engine? Do we buy a new keel cooler or grind the valves on the engine and generator? These are all on the To-do list and not long ago, as we wrestled with these questions, Jeffrey came up with an idea for how to best organize our list and make our decisions for how to tackle our project list.
To read how Jeffrey got us organized, hop on over to the David B’s blog on Yachting Magazine for the answer.
As we work on making the David B beautiful during the winter months, we look forward to having a great summer of cruising in the San Juan Islands and Inside Passage.
Opening Up the Pilothouse
The biggest project we’ll be working on this winter is building a new fridge and freezer for the boat. After thinking about this project for several years, we decided that the space between trunk cabin and the front of the pilothouse is the perfect spot since it’s a space that doesn’t get much use. We also need to remove some of the original wood from the front of the pilothouse that has started rotting. Most of the rot has come from rainwater that settles in under the pockets where the windows drop down.
This week was devoted to removing the old wood and assessing what needs to be replaced. Click on the pictures to see them as larger images.
A Stroll on Jones Island
[pix_dropcap]W[/pix_dropcap]ashington State is lucky to have an incredible system of marine parks. Several in the San Juan Islands. One that I particularly enjoy is Jones Island, a hundred and eighty-eight acre park that has a network of trails running along it’s perimeter and across the island. One of the many things that’s attractive about Jones Island is that it is only accessible by boat.
Once ashore, I always savor the walk through the forest to the other side of the island. Occasionally I’ve spotted a pileated woodpecker flying from tree to tree. Douglas Fir, Western red cedar, hemlock and big leaf maple make up most of the forest. There are also many mosses, lichens and fungi and I sometimes get to spend a half hour or longer with my guide books as we wander the paths. The walk opens up to a grassy area where black-tailed deer graze. They are quite friendly and will often let us come close enough to get a good picture. My favorite part of the walk is where the trail begins to skirt the edge of the island. Here, I’ve learned where to find a native prickly pear cactus. Yes, it’s true wet western Washington does have native cactus growing thanks to the rain shadow from the Olympic mountains. Another interesting native plant is the Garry Oak. There aren’t too many of these left in the San Juan Islands and the ones on Jones Islands are fenced off to encourage their renewal.
River otters and harbor seals are also regular visitors to Jones Island. Those of us who live and work near the saltwater can easily forget how interesting and fun these regularly seen animals are to watch. When we spot one it’s the highlight of the day. This summer we had a private charter with three generations of women who walked Jones Island with me. We were sitting on some rocks along the trail watching two deer, when two hikers came by and told us about four river otters who were feeding just around the corner. I got up and walked ahead of the group until I noticed a small boil in the water just below a rocky outcrop. The sun made the dried grass atop the outcrop warm and welcoming. I sat down to take some photos. A couple seconds later an otter popped up with crab in it’s mouth. The three other otters soon followed. My group caught up to me, and it was heartwarming to watch the excitement about the river otters. We talked for a while about the difference between river otters and sea otters, which we don’t see in the San Juan Islands.
I kept up with the otters until they came to a low spot. Cautiously they came onto the island. They stayed close to each other, rubbing their bodies together in braid-like motion. They made warning chirps as they tested the side of the trail. With trepidation they attempted to cross, but a bird flew past them and they retreated. I stood still with my camera. Again they emerged. They wanted to get to the forest and the underbrush of thick-leaved salal. I waited for the otters to make their move. It took several more tries. There was lots of head bobbing and back-leg kicking before they made their break. They scurried across the dirt and root trail; their forepaws low, and their hips high reminded me vaguely of an inchworm. They soon disappeared into the forest. I stood up to listen to them before turning around.
Back at the boat, Jeffrey was almost finished with lunch preparations. I took out my journal and quickly noted all the things we had seen. I’ve been to Jones Island many times and what I like about it is that there are many things that seem to remain the same, but with each stroll, there’s always something new. I’m looking forward to our next walk on Jones.
Tracy Arm/Fords Terror Wilderness – A Magical Place in Southeast Alaska
One of the best things about running the David B is getting to visit beautiful and wild places. One of our favorite places, Tracy Arm/Fords Terror Wilderness, has some of the best wildlife viewing and some of the most dramatic scenery around. It’s the topic of our latest Yachting Magazine blog.