This morning (while it was still raining) we decided to head out for Patos Island, northwest of Sucia. The forecast said it was to be improving for the weekend. It looked like a cruise of about 3.5 hours from Anacortes to Patos Island, and our plan was to grab one of the two mooring buoys in Active Bay at Patos (figuring off season we'd have a pretty good shot).
As we approached the picturesque lighthouse on Alden Point, we saw something large in the water up ahead, with a bunch of birds flocking around and over it. Kevin said, "Orcas!" I said "I don't think so…I didn't see any tall straight dorsal fins, and this thing was HUGE!"
Turns it it was humpbacks! Two of them! And they were close.
We hung out with them for a little bit, snapping photos. (I can't believe I left my long lens at home, again…but I really thought we were just coming for the weekend, and not going out on the boat at all this time. It will not happen again.)
It was SO amazing to be this close to these HUGE animals. We floated around for about a half an hour and then said goodbye and headed back toward our cove.
See you later, awesome humpback whales!! (Nice view of the new solar panels, as I make sure we aren't missing any more whaleage behind us.)
Inside Active Cove, about to grab a mooring buoy (there are two, and they were both empty so we have the island to ourselves for the night):
Patos Island has a lot in common with Sucia and Matia islands: very cool sculpted sandstone landscape, and clear clear water:
We deployed the dinghy and took it to shore, registered for the night (this is a WA State Park) and did a little exploring, including a hike out to the lighthouse.
Looking back as we head toward shore:
One of the gorgeous campsites here (all with picnic tables and fire pits, as well as a fair amount of goose poop, but whatever…look at that view, don't look at goose poop!)
Paved sidewalk path from where the dock used to be out to the lighthouse:
There are a LOT of birds out here on this point.
We hiked back to the dinghy on the beach (with one more shot of Airship at its buoy…white speck in the distance is the dinghy on the beach):
Getting close to sunset:
Can you believe this place?
Different view of the boat from the shore (sorry, it hasn't gotten old yet):
Before heading back to the boat we did a little twirl in the dinghy out to the lighthouse (through a bunch more birds):
Lighthouse at golden hour:
Back at the boat, having a little rum and lime on the top deck as the sun goes down:
So far, this is our favorite spot in the San Juans.
Here's our track from today. The loop on the left (at the top/end of the track) is the humpback-watching loop, and the pale yellow-filled one on the right is Patos Island:
Oh, and guess what? We have internet here (on the new Moovbox Wi-Fi router, which Kevin will be reviewing here soon).