Langley, Whales, and Gig Harbor

This post covers two short trips in late March, one to Langley with Cathleen to search for gray whales and the other to Gig Harbor with Dale’s son Evan. The Langley Marina is officially known as the Port of South Whidbey at Langley, on the inside of Whidbey Island a few miles north of the ferry terminal at Clinton. The weather was borderline with a small craft advisory until mid afternoon. The winds from the north were blowing against the outgoing tide which created choppy seas until we reached the lee of Whidbey Island. Photos never capture the true sea conditions, but this is what it looked like from my iPhone camera. The Olympic mountains were beautiful!

The marina at Langley is very small and they installed a new breakwater dock several years ago that made it much better to visit. We were the only transient boat on the newer dock. At this time in late March, we are five weeks away from “Opening Day” of boating season the first weekend in May. It’s nice to have the vast waters of Puget Sound to ourselves. Here are scenes of Fiddler at the dock, the view into the Sound, and a view from Langley as we walked to dinner.

Cathleen and I took the short but steep walk to Langley and had dinner at the Prima Bistro. This is a usual spot for us and they always have good food. We were not disappointed. Walking back on the dock, we woke up a visitor hoping for a good night sleep.IMG_2047

The next day we set out to look for the gray whales that stop over on their annual northern migration. Apparently there are several gray whales that stay here all year, but at this time there are also whales that stop during their migration for the abundant shrimp and krill found here. One way to increase our chances of seeing the whales is to look for the whale watching boats. This whale watching boat was in the same area as us so we were feeling optimistic. IMG_4013

However, they left without spotting any whales. We weren’t on a schedule so we continued our search and soon spotted two whales feeding in the shallow waters between Gedney Island and Everett near shore. They were too far away for an iPhone picture but we watched them forage for ghost shrimp for half an hour though binoculars. Image 4-11-19 at 7.41 PM

Feeling like we accomplished our whale watching mission, we headed south toward home. The waters were very calm and the sun was out like a summer day. Then we unexpectedly spotted a pod of orcas on the south tip of Whidbey Island. There were four or five of them, including a baby. We were so close that we shut off the engines and could easily hear their spouts. These pics are screenshots from iPhone videos.

Feeling like we won the whale lottery, we headed back to Seattle. After a night at home, my oldest son Evan and I decided to venture down to Gig Harbor for a couple of days.

Gig Harbor is a popular boating destination about 25 miles south of Seattle. We arrived with a few hours of daylight left and anchored in the bay, got the dinghy down, and motored to Tides Tavern for dinner. It is located on the waterfront with a dock for boating customers. Here is a satellite view of Gig Harbor and some pics from our evening.

Image 4-11-19 at 9.12 PM

Back onboard Fiddler for the night, I started the generator in order to run the furnace. Absentmindedly, I neglected to check the cooling water flow. Of course, I had previously closed the seacock and in short order the generator overheated and shut down. There was nothing I could do until the next morning when I hoped the only damage was a destroyed water pump impeller. I was lucky that the failsafe overheating switch worked and shut down the engine before any serious damage occurred. I removed the damaged impeller and replaced it with a spare and we were back in business. Here is the ruined impeller.IMG_4031

Then we dinghied to the public dock, walked around town, visited the free Gig Harbor Museum, toured a wooden boat builder, and had lunch before pulling anchor and heading back home. Nice and easy trip, except for the generator blow up, but that turned out to be a quick fix.

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