Wednesday, September 19, 2018: Whales and trails

Another sparkling day began at about 9 am with breakfast snacks and preparations to motor to Eagle Harbor on Cypress Island; winds had hidden themselves for the most part over the past several days, tip-toeing teasingly around the boat now and then from the wrong direction and then fleeing, or rising just as we were preparing to dock or drop anchor, and then disappearing with a breezy laugh later in the evenings. As was the case on Tuesday, we saw few other water craft apart from fishing boats and a few speed boats. We made a brief detour into Watmough Bay on the southern edge of Lopez Island, and found it to be a gorgeous little nook bordered on one side by a skyward-stretching cliff and boasting a postcard-perfect driftwood-decorated beach at the head of the bay. We could see a small house near the shore and two deciduous trees standing behind it that painted striking streaks of autumnal red and gold upon the deep green canvas of the surrounding firs!

As we were approaching Eagle Harbor at about 12:30 pm, I noticed a number of dark dorsal fins breaking the water, and soon after about a half-dozen of the small minke whales were within some 10 ft. of Braesail’s port side!  A few messages had come over the radio about sightings of humpback whales in the area we had just vacated, but we were thrilled to see ANY whales that close to the boat!

We hooked an anchoring ball with no trouble this time, and after a soup-and-chips lunch, Joy and I decided to take advantage of the glorious weather by taking a walk on one of the trails along the harbor’s thickly wooded shore. Walt brought us to the trails’ starting point in Coracle and returned to the boat to nap, and Joy and I spent the next hour walking nearly a mile though the fragrant forest, up a slope, along a relatively level path hugging the top of the bluff above the shore, down to the gravel beach at the head of the bay,

Eagle Harbor view September 2018
View over Eagle Harbor’s waters from the head of the bay

and up a slight incline leading to another section of beach farther away. The sun beamed cheerfully upon us as we made our way along the well-maintained trail that took us past fir, cedar, and madrona trees, salal bushes and sword ferns, and a few remaining wildflowers–dandelions, tiny daisies, and foxglove. Breezes whispered among the tree branches and brought us lovely whiffs of sea air.

Eagle Harbor from the shore
From the trail near the shore of Eagle Harbor

Before we had walked far from the beach, Joy began to experience symptoms of low blood sugar, so she ate a protein bar and we decided to make our way back to the shore and find a comfortable seat on one of the many drift logs. Walt had told us to call him when we were ready for a dingy ride home, but cell coverage proved inadequate for the task, and we trusted that he would find us resting at a spot where many visitors drag their landing craft ashore and begin their hikes. He had set an alarm for 45 minutes from the time of his return to Braesail, took Coracle to the spot at which he had discharged us, didn’t find us there, and decided to take the dinghy to the beach at the head of the harbor where we were indeed waiting for him. Some passers-by stopped to chat briefly, asked if we needed water, and took our picture–very kind!

Eagle Harbor Joy and Lorelettee September 2018
Joy and Lorelette on the beach at the head of Eagle Harbor

We had returned to Braesail by about 5 pm, and, after cleaning debris off the soles of our shoes, Joy and I snacked and then she worked puzzles and read while I slept for a while in the cockpit. Walt continued with his teaching preparations and then started to cook dinner (pasta with fresh spinach, tomatoes, and cheese); suddenly, the wind rose and a rain squall decided to visit the harbor, and we were glad that we were back from our delightful forest excursion and safely sheltered!

After dinner, I baked blueberry mini-muffins and wrote blog posts and sent photos to friends, and then Joy and I played four games of Yahtzee. Walt had fallen asleep over his reading by about 9:30, so I encouraged him, by about 10:15, to collapse into bed–he had seemed quite exhausted all afternoon. Joy retired to her cabin as well, and I stayed up until nearly midnight, writing, having a bit of vanilla/caramel ice cream, and listening to the liquid lullaby sung by wind-tossed raindrops.


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