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Oak Harbor

03/03/2019 - 03/04/2019 🍒

The weekend of March 2nd and 3rd had a forecast to be a very nice boating weekend a week in advance. The forecast proved to be correct. Tracy and I decided we needed a short weekend away. The original plan was to head up to one of the State Parks in the San Juan’s (SJI). As the week went on, the forecast indicated some wind for the weekend farther north and in the SJI area, so we decide to stay closer to home, on the east side of Whidbey Island. Since we had never boated into Oak Harbor, we set our sites on Oak Harbor Marina.

We pulled out of the slip about 1:00 pm.  The predicted wind did stack up against the tide as we headed out the south end of the Swinomish Channel. There 2-foot waves right on the beam as we passed Goat Island and out the west end of the channel. These were certainly not dangerous, but they were a little uncomfortable for about 10 minutes.

Oak Harbor Marina office

Once we turned south, the waves were not even noticeable and we had a very pleasant, trawler speed, trip to Oak Harbor. As we motored toward the marina, I called the harbormaster and requested a slip assignment. I was told to find any open slip on F-dock, and come to the office before 5:00 pm, or I could pay my $1 a foot fee at the office drop box.

Here is where I get to tell on myself. About half way through the trip Tracy needed some water from the sink. I remembered that I had opened the galley and head sinks to drain water from the pipes for the recent cold. I also opened the freshwater cockpit shower – but why would I remember that one…..  We got the sink faucets shut and the pump turned on all good.

Shortly after docking and turning the engine off, I heard something running. Well…it was the the fresh water pump – running dry. I instantly remembered the open cockpit shower. That faucet was open too…. So Puget Sound got 60 gallons of fresh water deposited in it from my shower. With my face a little red, I had to tell Tracy I had forgotten to shut the cockpit shower faucet, and we pumped all of our freshwater overboard off the swim step. As I look on the dock at Oak Harbor I see water spigots. Wonderful…. Dodged that bullet, No harm, No foul. I’ll fill the tank in bit.

Now it was about 4:30, so we walked up to the Harbormaster to pay our fees. The nice woman (Alyce) manning the desk, and docks, as she was working alone today, was ready to sign us in and tell us all about the marina. The first thing she asked was, will you need electricity? Need was relative, but we paid the $5 for it. The next question was, “Will you need water?” Before I could say , “Yes, 60 gallons, please,” She continued, “..the water on F-dock is out of order. We have a leak that we were not able to repair today.” I just got hit by a dodged bullet. We always carry a few gallons of bottled water but there is no fresh water for shower or anything else. I told Alyce we will only be staying one night, so it will be fine (smilie). Then I saw someone was rolling her eyes and I read her lips saying "dingbat"!! (rolling eyes....🙄 🙄)

That evening was pretty laid back. We had dinner of chicken and wine and cheese. Then we settled in to watch a DVD we brought from home.

Oak Harbor Marina

After Breakfast the next morning, we wanted to go on photo walk. Tracy brought her DSLR camera and she wanted to get some shots on a nice sunny morning. So we headed on a mile or so walk down the beach into the Historic Downtown of Oak Harbor.

A viewpoint to look out at Oak Harbor

It is very nice. There were several nice little shops. A few restaurants and a bar. There were no 7-11’s, Starbucks, McDonalds or gas stations. This type of town center really makes us feel like we are far away, even though we are quite close to home. Unfortunately, few of the shops were open on this Sunday morning in early March. After a stop at Whidbey Coffee, we were on the way back to the boat – via the road this time (Mayor's trail).

As we were pulling away from the slip under a cloudless blue sky and 40 degrees, there were a few harbor seals hauled out on the log breakwater.

A relaxing seal on a log

I pulled away as slow as possible, so as not to disturb them and to give Tracy a chance to take a few pictures of them.

We motored out the long narrow channel from Oak Harbor into Saratoga Passage. Once we got headed east, back toward La Conner, we settled in, again at 8-10 knots to enjoy the beautiful day and flat water. About 5 minutes into this I notice a boat a couple miles away. It was the Island Explorer 5, a commercial whale watching boat based in La Conner.

What a seal family do on a laid back sunny day before Monday!

It's an Orca!!!

Next, I tell Tracy to watch that boat – there may be whale blows near it. A couple minutes later, we could see what they were watching four orcas and they were headed toward us! I kept Cerise pointed toward the Island Explorer. There was one other commercial whale watch boat there as well. The whales continued in our direction and got close enough that I needed to stop. After they went by us, we followed near the commercial boats toward the southwest and continued to watch them for about an hour. We are not whale expert, but we think there were a mother and calf, and 2 males. When we first saw them, the 4 were close together. After they passed us, the 2 larger ones (I assume males) took a more easterly track while the two smaller ones made there way more westerly. We were in position to watch the larger ones more The Island Explorer followed the smaller two.

Baby orca and mom!

It was amazing to see orca up close

What a wonderful surprise to see 4 orcas on this trip

We had never been this close to Orcas before. We saw Gray Whales on our 1st outing with Cerise and we saw Orcas from about 2 miles while on a mooring ball last year. Orcas are an amazing, beautiful and super smart creature. It was an honor to see them in their natural surroundings. I hope it happens again.

After about an hour, we pointed Cerise back to the north, toward La Conner. Talking about this encounter all the way back to the slip. It was an amazing experience.

This is just one more reason why we enjoy having a boat.


More orcas pictures...

More pictures from this trip...


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