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Orcas on Mayne Island

David and Genny managed to grab a weekend away with three other couples, journeying over to Mayne Island, one of the Canadian Gulf Islands. It was a quiet weekend, actually very relaxing and uneventful...until Sunday morning.

(click an image for a larger view)

Shortly after breakfast, Steve called us all out onto the deck to watch a pod of orcas that he had spotted about a mile to the west in Active Pass.

We watched the whales for about 30 minutes, passing binoculars back and forth among us. Several whale watching boats and a few local private boats were following the pod through the pass.

As the whales were just about out of sight up the pass, Steve noted that if we got into the car and drove over to the restaurant where we had eaten dinner on Friday night, we could probably watch them pass right by. It sounded like a good idea, so six of us piled into the car.

When we got to the restaurant, however, it was obvious that the view wouldn't be even as good as what we had seen from the house. The whales were all on the far side of Active Pass. Genny and two of the others drove back to the house, promising to come back for us in an hour.

We watched for a few more minutes. In the meantime, a small powerboat had tied up to the dock to get gas. Steve commented to Jan, "Why don't you go ask if they'll take us out to see the whales for $50." She returned a few minutes later and said, "Let's go."

And so we did. After motoring across Active Pass to where we had seen the whales, however, it became obvious that one group of whales were swimming over to the other side of the pass. The boat owner quickly motored back to the side closest to Mayne Island, and ahead of where the whales were heading. A few minutes later, we found ourselves in the midst of a large pod of orcas.

When we returned to shore, the boat owner was hesitant to take our money. Steve insisted. While we were waiting for someone from the house to come back to get us, we went back to the restaurant for a beer. A few minutes later, the boat owner, his son, and his brother-in-law came in, remarking, "Now we can afford to buy breakfast."

But what would we tell the others? When we returned to the house, Beth asked "Did the whales get any closer?" "Yes," was the reply. "How much closer?" "Oh. About 10 yards."

"They came that close to the shore?"

"No. I didn't say that. But they really were only about 10 yards away."

copyright 2001-2011; David S. Cohn. All Rights Reserved.