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Tanks for the good times

As summer comes to an end, it's about the time people start migrating closer to the equator to escape the winter. But everyday on Orion, we keep heading north. We have traveled many miles passing and waving to the parade of fishing vessels heading back from a summer in Alaska. We are seeing less and less personal boats on the water with September just around the corner. Though we know our northern route will have us in layers before we know it, we have spent the last three days sailing at eight knots in tank tops and shorts. The wind has been warm and the water even warmer; in some places reaching 70 degrees. Soon we will have to cross through the rapids and tackle Johnstone Strait, but we knew a layover day in Desolation Sound had to make it on the itinerary. Here the cliffs plummet hundreds of feet into the blue, warm, glacier fed water and not only do we want to spend time here, so do the whales. As we traveled up the Strait of Georgia we were lucky enough to see some transient orcas and humpback whales. The transients, who eat marine mammals, were traveling in a close group and had a newborn calf tucked safely in the middle. In one day we watched twelve humpbacks enjoying their summer feeding grounds, even lucky enough to have orcas and humpbacks in the same binocular field of view. For the most part we all have one whale in mind, the North Pacific right whale, but seeing the North Pacific humpback whale is a reminder of a success story. Captain Kevin has spent over ten years looking for wildlife in the Salish Sea and a decade ago humpbacks were considered rare sightings. In our five days onboard we have seen over twenty whales, so many we have decided to start a daily tally to keep track.

Today is the last day in the familiar, tomorrow the exploration truly begins. Orion has never been this far north and everyday we get to see these places we've been studying on the charts. The past few days we've been catching up with old friends, splashing in favorite swimming spots and revisiting memories from trips in years past, but we are ready to cross over into channels, straits, passages and experiences unknown. Cinnamon buns in Refuge Cove and rest hour in Toba Inlet closes up the charts we all know by memory and opens new charts to exciting places. We know we have to be in this place by this day, meet this person in that location, but the winds and whales will be guiding our itinerary from here. When people see a beautiful wooden sailboat come into the dock with six people all decked head to toe in whale gear, they can't help but ask questions. In telling people about our film, no one has yet heard of a North Pacific right whale. Although this is somewhat expected, it underscores the significance of producing this film. Here's to the unfamiliar, a north compass bearing and the whale in a haystack.

Tally update:

Whales sighted: 7 transient orcas, 14 humpbacks, 1 minke

New charts onboard: 50

Cans of black beans: 31

Handstand contests Kevin has lost: 6

People who have heard of a North Pacific right whale: 0

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