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Orcas near Patos (and a whole lotta law enforcement)

Wow, today on the water was weird! Cool, but also weird. Sam left Shallow Cove on Sucia Island about an hour before we did. As we were leaving, he texted us and said he'd been boarded by the San Juan Sheriff. They inspected all his safety gear and documentation and stuff (he passed) and then they were on their way. We joked back and forth that maybe they'd be on the lookout for us next! 

We headed off toward the west side of San Juan Island to look for orcas, but pretty soon we noticed five or so boats over near the Canadian border.


Where there's this, there are probably whales. I looked on my Marine Traffic app and one of them was definitely a whale watching boat, and after binoc'ing them, we confirmed: whale watching boats. So off we went. A few minutes later a Department of Fish & Wildlife patrol boat came zooming toward us. Hey! It must be the day to be boarded in the San Juan Islands! We slowed down and then idled as they came up on our port side and asked for our identification. We handed over our IDs as they asked us where we were going, if this was our boat, where we kept it, whether we lived on it, and if we were going to Canada. We told them we had been planning to go look for orcas on the west side of San Juan Island, but that we spotted all those whale watching boats over there so we thought we'd go see if we could see some whales. We were just out cruising around. No we weren't going to Canada, yes this is our boat, etc. They copied our IDs and let us carry on our way.


The whole time that was going on, there was also a sheriff's boat stopped not too far away, watching us:


As soon as we got back underway, it seemed like the sheriff's boat was heading to intercept us, but then it didn't. We continued toward the orcas, and spent a half an hour or so with them from a pretty good distance. There were a couple of large adults, and quite a few young feisty ones. Pretty sweet!









The whole time we were watching whales (just across the border in Canadian waters), the sheriff's boat was parked at the border, watching. Maybe they wanted to make sure we came back, but it was a little weird. 

The orcas were heading north, and we thought we'd gotten a pretty good show, so we turned to head back and decided to go over to Patos. The sheriff picked up speed and looked like they were coming to intercept us. They parked right at the entrance to Active Cove on Patos. We slowed up, assuming they were going to want to chat, since that seems to be the kind of day it is up here, but they just sat and watched us as we went into the cove and grabbed the mooring buoy. Just past the sheriff's boat, there was also a Coast Guard boat, sitting on the other side of the point where the lighthouse is. Also this morning, a Coast Guard helicopter flew really low over the cove we were anchored in. All in all, the vibe out here is certainly as if something is UP. I was hoping the sheriff would follow us into the cove here so we could ask him what the heck was going on, but he didn't. 

Maybe this has something to do with those two guys with no boat we saw the last time we were here on Patos!!!

So, the orcas, the San Juan Sheriff, the Department of Fish & Wildlife, and the Coast Guard. They're all here. Where's the party? 🙂


One Comment

  1. Kevin McLaughlin Kevin McLaughlin

    so lucky to have Cypress Island close to Cap Sante! Everett is a great port but there is no cozy harbor nearby to escape to. Tulalip is about the only option, but its not quite the same.

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