Monday, May 12, 2014

To "Summer" in the Sound

What was I doing while Husband plied the waters of Prince William Sound in his buddy's boat for 4 days? It was a trip to make repairs on the first operation of the season. You see, it's necessary to do a lot of hidden maintenance and removal of bugs on that first shakedown cruise, and the only way to discover hidden issues is to take her out for a multi-day spin around the block...



and of course, on the way, you view sea lions lounging on rocks, stunning mountain views, Dall porpoise crisscrossing the bow, and lots of whales...whales "summering" in the Sound, sort of like how New Yorkers "summer" in the Hamptons.



Humpback whales journey to the islands of Hawaii in the winter, and have their offspring there in the spring. Sometimes we too, vacate there, not to have babies, but for relief from Alaska's dark and cold winter months. Last year Husband and I paddled inflatable kayaks into Maaelaea Bay on the island of Maui and witnessed a humpback whale breeching way, way, way too close to our boats BACK-PADDLE, B-B-BACK-P-P-PADDLE!

http://vimeo.com/57416600

So it was interesting for him to view the whales that have returned to Alaska for the summer, returning to breech and twist and roll and spout and splash down with the greatest aplomb. Fact: Humbacks are baleen whales, which means they filter their food through baleen plates. They eat krill, anchovies, cod, sardines, and mackerel...all the stuff you like to have on your pizza.



While he and his buddy were out "fixing" things on the boat (uh huh), he took lots of photos. Today is a Share Some of His Photos Day, and a few facts about these magnificent creatures. 



The humpback is one of the most easily recognized whale species, weighing in at up to 48 tons, and measuring 40-50 feet in length. That's about a ton a foot...a helluva lot of blubber. They are differentiated from other whales by their large fins, almost a third of their body size, and the hump on their backs. The white markings on the underside of their fins are like fingerprints, allowing researchers to identify specific individuals who return to the Sound for the summer.



I wonder if the one that breeched in front of us in Maui is the same gal or fella photographed here? Could be. They're relatively small in numbers, the summering population less than a couple hundred.

So what if it takes 4 days of halibut fishing, shrimping and whale watching to figure out all the boat's bugs? Seriously, they got a lot of work done too. They replaced a stove and oven unit that was inoperable, put in a new water pump, did a thorough house, er, boat cleaning, replaced a propane shut-off valve, discovered a bad battery bank, changed out defective mooring lines, and while doing all this work, simultaneously test-ran the shrimp pots and fishing reels (just to make sure they worked OK...hehe). 


                                a trio of spouts

I stayed at home and power-washed the front of the house, sanded the deck in prep for painting, and constructed planter boxes out of old 2 x 6's. Maintenance and gardening operations, you might say. 

On Mother's Day, I sat on the newly sanded deck in the sunshine, and ate ice cream with son #2. And it will be skewered spot shrimp on the barbie tonight, fresh from the sparkling waters of Prince William Sound.

*All photos by Kent Devine







2 comments:

  1. Is that a DeFever? It looks like a grand boat. I could come and varnish those rails for food and a bunk. ;)

    Those photos are spectacular. Do you think you ever could live somewhere else, after being in the midst of all that magnificence? It's not just the mountains, or the whales, or those skies. There just are places in the world where the whole truly is more than the sum of its parts, and I have a feeling you're in one of those places.

    I love that the whales have individual markings, like fingerprints. Of course they do. Every single creature in this world is an individual. Sometimes it's a little hard for us to comprehend, but tht doesn't mean it isn't true!

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    1. Ha, Linda, the boat is a Taiwanese Trawler, and I guarantee you, the owner knows how much work goes into refurbishing those rails! He bought the boat in La Connor, Washington, and we crewed it up to Alaska with him. Being fabulous cooks, the owner and his wife made magnificent meals every night, until we hit the Gulf; then it was 44 hrs. of wicked seas & tying everything down that could turn into a loose canon. Once we hit Prince William Sound, we all sighed a great sense of relief. Regarding the landscape here, yes, it is magnificent, but as we age, many of our friends are leaving for Arizona; but we're going to stay, and just snowbird for a couple months out of every year. Nature is my god, and she live outside my back door. Linda, I think it's time for you to make a visit!

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