When I decided to move to San Juan Island… before I had ever been on a sailboat, heck! before I had ever been to the island, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted more than to be out on the water among the whales.
About a year after being out here, I met my whale-soulmate-for-life Colleen, and together we spent many an early morning and one rainy evening kayaking up and down the west side of San Juan Island. And, on those few occasions that we found ourselves among the orcas, I knew there would never be anything else quite like it.
Fast forward a year and a half, and now I have Tosca. So, I figured we were due to take her over to the west side and hopefully have a magical whale experience, minus all of the paddling. We planned the date, Colleen took the day off work, we stocked the galley with mimosas, bagels, salsa, and chocolate and headed out into the foggy morning.
This was one of the first times I found myself out on the boat with nowhere in particular that I needed to be at any particular time (and the fact that I was with someone that knew next to nothing about sailing, so I didn’t have to worry about feeling silly if I did something stupid was a huge plus), so once we got to the west side, I hoisted up the mainsail and then the jib for the first time, after working out a couple of kinks, and shut down the motor.
Shockingly, WE WERE SAILING!
We aimed the boat so that the wind was hitting us on the beam and enjoyed the feeling of heeling over and bouncing through the waves.
As we were hanging out on the high side staring over the starboard side that was mere inches from the water, a Dall’s porpoise shot up less than a foot from the boat. We screamed, partly in excitement and partly because it startled us. And then, to our disappointment, it took off.
However, that was just the beginning. Forty-five minutes later, we found ourselves surrounded!