Our fleet! We had 11 boats, and whole bunch of Subarus! Bill hauled 5 on his car.

Sea Kayaking on San Juan Island, WA


Hoping to see a whale in the Salish Sea!



Saturday/Sunday September 07/09, 2007




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How to get to San Juan Island? It is half the fun. From Seattle in 30-45 minutes in an airplane or seaplane. We took the ferry. We drove two hours from Seattle to the ferry terminal in Anacortes and boarded a Washington State Ferry

The perimeter of San Juan Island is approximately 74 miles and has a population of 5,214 residents. It is a favorite getaway, and also popular for cycling trips.

We camped at San Juan County Park. Located on the west side of San Juan Island, it is a beautiful park. There are rocky bluffs, blackberries,  and gravel beaches. The view overlooks Haro Strait, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island. We saw a Bald Eagle fly over.

Organized by Bill Doyle, our group was John, Sandy, Leah, Carol, Jeff Crow, Mike, Doerte, and Michael and Magda.

 A beautiful sunset over Haro Strait to Vancouver Island. This was one of the few high pressure days we had over the summer.

A campsite with a gorgeous view, friends, and a warm beautiful weekend in the Pacific Northwest! It just doesn't get better than this. Just after sunset we were visited by bats.


Thanks to Jeff Crow for the photo.

The San Juan Islands area is home to approximately 90 Orca whales that comprise three pods. J, K, and L pod. The Orcas make their home in the San Juans typically from late April through the end of September and sometimes longer. In the winter they move out to the Pacific Ocean, and have been seen as far south as Monterey, Ca.

Orcas can be seen from land, often from the west side of the island at Lime Kiln Point State Park, also known as "Whale Watch Park" - the only such park in the nation, or from a sea kayak.

.We had encounters with Orca whales, harbor porpoises, harbor seals while enjoying the wave-cut bedrock cliffs shrouded in towering Douglas Fir and Pacific Madrone. Our view across the water was to Vancouver Island, and the Olympic Peninsula and the Olympic Mountains.

The San Juan Islands enjoy an average of 247 days with sunshine and about half the rainfall of Seattle, thanks to the rain shadow effect of the Olympic Mountains to the southwest.

Michael and Magda, San Juan residents, enjoy the calm waters. With dry suits on, they practiced rolling their kayaks.




A snack break at the beach at Lime Kiln Point State Park.

John, Michael, Jeff, and Doerte

Michael and Magda produced some homemade blackberry pie! Yumm! A great way to make friends!


John found a kayak to match his hat!

Showing good form in front of the lighthouse at Lime Kiln Point State Park

The paddling is often quite challenging in this area, with strong currents, and a northwesterly wind and boat traffic.

A family of orcas is known as a pod and consists of a mother and all her offspring. Orcas stay with their mother for life and have a complex matriarchal social structure. Males mate with females from other pods, then return to their mother.

An adult orca can grow to 32 feet in length and weigh 9 tons. Adult males can sport dorsal fins of up to 6 feet. Females live up to 80 years and pass down knowledge to younger generations while the males live up to only 30 years.

There are three distinct races of orcas - residents, transients and offshores. Seventeen different pods of northern resident orcas, consisting of about 220 whales, inhabit the area where we kayak. An odontocete, or toothed whale, resident orcas tend to feed primarily on salmon. Transients will feed on seals, porpoises and even large baleen whales. There are no documented cases of killer whales attacking a human in the wild.

Orcas have the ability to produce vocalization calls and whistles to communicate with each other. They are the only animals other than humans known to have dialects in their language. There are three clans with distinct dialects among the northern residents: the "G" clan sound like donkeys, the "R" clan sound like pigs and the "I" clan whistles.


 Doerte looking for an Orca in the clear water


Mike and Bill (our leader) in the kelp beds

Before the whales came Mike got hit with a sneaker wave and rolled his kayak over. He evacuated the boat and waited a couple of minutes for Doerte and Bill to arrive. Bill was able to quickly help him back in. Once this cold lesson was over, there were Orcas everywhere! We headed back North with the Orcas swimming to our left. One paced Doerte for a while, and another swam under Jeff.

Video of whale watching - ( not our trip) orca and kayak video   ( requires Quicktime )
One of the many Orcas we saw Sunday morning feeding. We kayaked with the fabled Super Pod. A Super Pod occurs when 2 or more modes come together. We saw whales from all three resident pods - J, K, and L pods. They were everywhere. We saw up to 40 Orca's including some juveniles. Amazing.

It is really hard to get Orca photos from a Kayak, especially in challenging water. More Orca photos at the link below.

Thanks to Jeff Crow for the photo.

We had a wonderful weekend. We met some great people and had an immense amount of fun!

Thanks to Bill Doyle for putting it all together and making sure every had a good time, learned some stuff, and stayed safe!

Orca network Sightings on September 09: http://orcanetwork.org/sightings/map.html

 Lots of Orca photos at: http://orcanetwork.org/images/photopage2007.html

Want to find out more about Orcas?

Go to the Orca Network  http://orcanetwork.org/


  The activities described in this web site are potentially dangerous. Canyoneering, rock climbing, and mountaineering involve unavoidable risks including the risk of serious bodily injury and death. All forms of wilderness recreation have a higher level of risk than most ordinary activities. The owner and publisher of this web site do not assume any responsibility or liability for your safety. Those who use this information, and those who venture onto mountainous terrain, do so at their own risk. Disclaimer

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