Right now if you were on board Orion this is what you'd be hearing, "you guys this is happening, we are going to Haida Gwaii, we are all onboard and the boat is moving" over and over again. Sometimes it is screamed with excitement and other times it is said quietly in amazement. For the most part this isn't quite real to anyone yet. Six weeks and hundreds of miles searching for a whale in a haystack. But it's true, the voyage has begun! These first few days have been a lot of packing, organizing, planning and stowing. We were able to transit from Seattle to North Pender Island and check into customs, all on the first day. We are now in Canada!! A minke whale and dall's porpoise came to welcome us as we crossed the border. After the Canadian flag went up the halyard, we had the next task at hand- stowing everything. All crew are prepared for the cold and wet weather ahead. I'm not sure which number is greater: the number of layers on board or the number of cans of black beans. Today we made our first provision stop in Ganges Harbor on Saltspring Island, and stocked up on all sorts of food. You may be wondering where all that food is going to go. With a full crew on board, six weeks, limited grocery stores and no Tim Hortons, you've got to get a little creative. Right now the canned spinach is in the tea locker, the rice noodles are in the coffee locker and the chips are in the fruit hammock. But a scavenger hunt is fun every once in a while. If any one reading this has ideas for food storage, send them our way! I can almost guarantee all the places you've come up with in your head are already filled with camera gear. We'll meet you back at the drawing board.
Everyone is thrilled to be on Orion. For some, this trip has been years in the making and for others, just a couple months. But I feel comfortable to speak on behalf of all crew on board when I say this: we are all incredibly excited. There are estimated to be thirty North Pacific right whales in the entire Northeast Pacific and we are hoping to see one. These whales have an interesting history; a story to be told in another post. But needless to say, a gathering of whale nerds, sailing up and down the British Columbia coast, zig zagging through beautiful forested islands and listening to water gently falling 60 feet of a cliff side, this is going to be an amazing trip. Stay tuned for more blog posts and pictures. We would also love to hear your comments and questions about our trip, anything from the itinerary, an update on how many black bean cans are left, what wildlife we are seeing or any questions about the whale in a haystack. Let us know!
Before I do sign off for the evening, I want to tell you more about the fantastic crew on board Orion right now. Some crew met years ago and others just a couple days, but we all agree that Deep Green Wilderness has a mission unlike any other organization; providing students the opportunity to learn to sail, to study the beautifully complex ecosystem of the Salish Sea, and to help protect this place we have all fallen in love with. There is something about the organization, being onboard Orion and getting connected with the outdoors that made all six of us agree to make this dream happen, putting the North Pacific right whale on the map.
Here are the crew members that are going to make it happen:
Jesse McKeen-Scott: Deckhand, Pacifica, California
Farmer, Birder & Hardcore Whale Nerd
“Chester” as she is known onboard is our resident California girl who can tackle goats, teach students about caudle peduncles and do a stand-up comedy routine all before lunch. Chester is the only crew member who does not require coffee before morning meeting.
Elizabeth Robinson: Chief Scientist, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Soccer Star, Cetacean Guru & Eagle-Eye
“E-Rob” has been to all fifty states and holds Jr. Ranger status at fifty-three national parks. She LOVES whales and has dedicated her life to saving them through education and research. Do not try and beat her in a handstand contest, you will lose… hands down.
Jessie Mathews: Chief Mate, Lincolnville, Maine
Swimmer, Sailor & #1 Ski-meister
Jessie “Jessie James” Mathews has spent the last four years at sea teaching students the finer points of sailing and plankton. She picks up the slack while the rest of the crew is too busy filming whales to do their real jobs.
Lindsay “T-Rex” Walker: Education Director, Seattle, Washington
Part-time Captain, surfer & Sun Meditator
T-Rex has been sold on NP right whales since day one. When not onboard Lindsay hold down the fort in the office and keeps the lights on for DGW. After a transformative meeting with children’s bard Raffi, T-Rex has dedicated her time and energy to conservation education and a life at sea.
Shawnecee “Leon” Schneider: Co-Producer, Oakland, California
Filmmaker, Activist & Whale Horoscope Interpreter
Four years ago Shawnecee made Kevin pinky promise they would remain friends after they started making films together and here she is back onboard for film number two. Shawnecee is the only one of us that knows what she is doing behind the film camera and therefore we listen to what she says.
Kevin Campion: Captain, Seattle, Washington
Skateboarder, Amateur Bird Enthusiast & Handstand Contest Loser
Kevin cannot believe he talked everyone into this! Also, they let him drive the boat sometimes.