Pacific White Sided Dolphins! 110 Miles across Hecate Strait
11 August 2011
Don/Nice and sunny
We left Haida Gwaii at 5:30 am to cross Hecate Strait today. We pulled anchor in the dark and had a huge pile of kelp that got mixed up in our bridle. It took us a while to sort it out. Finally, we were off! The winds were about 15 knots at the beginning with 4-5 foot swells. We braced for a tough crossing since winds typically build during he day in these waters. We were lucky, though. They gradually eased and the seas smoothed out a bit. Debbie, Dave, and I each took 2-hour shifts at the helm. It was going to be a long trip, about 14-15 hours and 110 miles. We saw a number of unusual (for us) sea birds: a black-footed albatross, a tufted puffin, a sooty shearwater, rhinoceros auklets, common murres, northern fulmars, a parasitic jaeger, and a few others. Then, out of nowhere a pod of Pacific White-sided Dolphins appeared. There must have been 20 or so. They wanted to surf the pressure wave, under the water, that runs in front of our boat. Pacific White Sided Dolphins are a species that loves to play and do stupid things. They love to surf your pressure wave for a few minutes but quickly change their attention to other things. This group, though, stayed with us for an hour. We sped up to 10 knots and they seemed to enjoy that. When we slowed to 6 knots, they started using their energy to jump clear of the water. It was an exceptional treat to spend such a long time with these mammals. Great fun!
We finally arrived in Hurricane Anchorage, our destination. It was another gentle journey across Hecate Strait. We have been very lucky. We rafted up with Deception and made plans to go fishing in the early am, the next day, with Jordan, his dad Brian, and brother Josh. We packed the boat for a silent departure.