There was once a time when mankind did not dream of sailing the open seas like a bird upon the wind. A time when travel ended at whatever shore you came to, and what lay beyond was an everlasting mystery. Humans looked to the ocean as we look to the stars today, with wonder and curiosity, with hope and admiration, and even though some have begun looking up, it is this hope and wonder that keeps us sailing. Year after year, season after season it is this curiosity and admiration that keeps our bow pointed to sea, ever searching for what lay beyond each horizon. To live a life upon the water is but a dream filled with more beauty and magnificence than an entire lifetime could ever allow one to embrace.
It was a sunny morning as the crew stepped aboard the Island Explorer 3. A thick fog bank laying just north of Gedney(Hat) Island was quickly burning away as the sun shined down filling the air with excitement. Today was the day that months of sanding and painting would finally pay off. Today was the first day of the season, and a new energy fell upon the crew. Captain Michael the crafty veteran from Philly, Tyson the ginger bearded naturalist from Minnesota, and of course Eli the master chef from right here in Washington, were all ready for what ever the day decided to bring them.
The crew started their morning as they usually do, preparing the boat for the guests who would soon enjoy its comforting embrace, drying puddles, warming up engines, and cooking some delicious pulled pork. After the chores were through the crew headed to the upper deck to expand their view in order to search for whales. To no avail the search turned up nothing, no blows, no tails, just flat calm seas, and with that it was time to greet the days passengers.
Many familiar faces stood in the crowd as Captain Michael and Eli made their way up the dock. old friends who had not been seen since seasons past, and also unknown faces, of new friends who would share in the delight of the day. Some passengers even brought a most delectable treat for the crew, COOKIES!!! Tyson made his way up the dock shortly after the crew, just in time to greet everyone with a Minnesotan good morning, and with that the season had officially begun.
In no time at all passengers were boarding the mighty vessel, enjoying the warmth of the sun as it sprawled out upon the decks, and the wildlife that played all around. Soon the mighty roar of the ships Detroit diesels rumbled through the air as if a giant had awakened from its slumber. The lines were undone and stowed and in the blink of an eye the Explorer 3 was off the dock and heading for glory.
Calm waters danced upon the bow of the Explorer 3 as it headed out into the Possession sound, she soared upon the water like an eagle in the clouds. As she passed the naval base passengers and military personnel exchanged friendly waves,massive naval vessels resting peacefully in the background with snowy mountain tops rising above, a truly beautiful sight. Captain Michael then aimed the bow toward Whidbey Island in search of the seasons first whale.
Boats spotted the the horizon, harbor seals popped their curious noses into the air watching the large vessel sail by, and sea birds called out as they flew above, a truly tranquil feeling lay upon the water this day. Turning south Captain Michael passed the ferry docks and one lone paddle boarder and continued on his mission for greatness. Soon the green marker off Possession point was in sight and some large brown figures were resting upon it. It turned out to be a couple Steller sea lions out enjoying the glorious sunny day. With there heads resting on what looked to be a most uncomfortable position they didn’t bat an eye as the Explorer 3 sailed by. Proving just how rough it is to be a Steller sea lion they continued their Saturday nap until the Explorer 3 turned north again to reports of an animal.
The ship arrived on scene just in time for two surfacing followed by the first tail flukes of the year!!!! It was gray whale #723 or as the crew has come to call it Lucy, making its way south along Whidbey island. Captain Michael followed alongside it giving the boat some great views of the animal as it slowly made its way along the shallow waters. 723 showed its tail multiple times as it traveled giving passengers a great idea of just how large these animals really are. The slow majestic roll as the whale flew through the water, the waterfall of water as it cascaded of the whales fluke(tail). Such a spectacular sight to see.
723 kept its course south around the tip of Whidbey with Captain Michael and the Explorer 3 by its side. Unfortunately, as with most things of such beauty, it had to come to an end. So with the last looks of 723’s mighty tail the Explorer 3 again headed north. The sun shining down upon her back now she steamed ahead enjoying the sights of a bald eagle perched high in a tree and two pigeon guillemots in both winter and summer plumage. The Explorer 3 returned to the dock successful, the fires had been lit and the season had begun… what else might it bring is unknown but one thing is for certain, the crew would be ready to handle it all!!!