Way back at the end of March Greg and I led a cruise of 8 BYC boats out to the Farallon Islands to hopefully see some whales. We did this last year as part of a cruise organized by a Sausalito club….but thought since we were starting up the monthly day cruises for BYC, this would make a perfect adventurous addition to our schedule. We, on Pura Vida were only gifted a spout – but others did see actual whale blubber – fortunately not in their rigging, but in the ocean where it belongs :-).
I took photos, but we also had along Vi Bottaro who is an amazing professional photographer from the Napa Valley. My photos can’t compare with hers, so please follow this link to her blog post about our very long day:
And if you are into photography – especially boating or water related subjects, I highly recommend backing out to her main blog and subscribing. Her photos are really amazing.
Below is Greg’s Write-up for the Now Hear this….I thought it captured the day perfectly (along with Vi’s photos)…..
Farallones Whale Watching Cruise Report
On Sunday morning March 27th, well before the sun was ready to rise, 8 groups of brave and fearless crews gathered at their boats to cast off for the Farallon Islands. The agenda was to hopefully see some whales, get a close-up view of the Islands and have a fun romp in the big ocean. Even though NOAA was predicting some possibly stomach challenging seas, the following boats found the draw of adventure too strong to stay in their slips any longer: Pura Vida (Melissa & Greg Davids), Maggie (Dave Douglas), Bliss (Jolanda DeBoer & Tod Flak), Margaux (Sharon & Patrick Hind-Smith), Roxanne (Mike Mitchell), Charisma (Bob Johnson) and Mona Too (David Halaby). With us in spirit, but thwarted at the last moment with engine issues, was also Knot Studying (Lindsey Goosherst & Mike Dvorak). All of these boats were ably crewed by a list of sailors too long for this article – 38 sailors total.
After motor-sailing to a couple miles west of Point Bonita, a nice southerly breeze kicked in which allowed us to fetch SE Farallon on a close hauled port tack. This reporter found the sea state to be much nicer than feared from the forecast, though many of the larger rollers would still hide the view of other boats behind walls of water. It is rumored that a few crew members from various boats were so anxious to attract whales that they decided to see if chumming worked as well for gray whales as it does for sharks. Results from this test appear to indicate that sacrificing one’s breakfast does not result in a greater likelihood of attracting cetaceans. While we feel comfortable with accepting these findings, we have no doubt that future scientifically curious sailors will do their part to broaden the sample size of this research.
Actual whale sightings were relatively few and far between, but most everyone saw at least a few blows. There were also some reports of viewing the actual backs of close-by diving grays and one crew member on Maggie witnessed a breach. Most all of the boats completed a circumnavigation of SE Farallon and were able to enjoy the impressive views of big waves crashing on the shore of this very jagged bit of rock 26 nautical miles straight out from the Golden Gate.
We would like to give a big special thanks to BYC member, and marine biologist, Carol Keiper for an enthusiastic talk she gave to all of us at a crew meeting the Friday before. Carol imparted quite a bit of interesting information on gray whales and the Farallon Islands. While Carol was not able to sail out there with us, she nonetheless stood witness to our fleet circling the island as she was leading her own professional whale watching cruise from a chartered fishing boat.
The sail back to Berkeley was quite the fun romp. Winds picked up a bit to the 15 to 20 knot range on a starboard beam reach. All boats experienced some nice surfing on the ocean waves. A bit of drizzle on the return did not dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. Upon their return, many of the crews gathered back at BYC for Sunday “Linner”, a cold beer (or wine) and traded stories. Good times.