So, we thought we had done well the other day with orcas coming from all directions and then four beauties going around us. We were still talking about that yesterday and then we watched the video that I had narrated as they came towards us. Hmm, didn’t sound terrified in that clip. Kept the camera pretty still and didn’t drop it in a puddle of saltwater. Refrained from screaming like a girl. All in all, a pretty good day.
Anyway, we set off again today with the sun shining gloriously and the water calm and beautiful. It looks like there’s no bear in the ladies room as we pass the little island. On we go for a few miles, chatting with other kayakers and occasionally sitting still in the sun just taking it all in. We make it to a lunch stop called Blinghorn Point which consists of a long slow paddle into a bay, a very rocky, driftwood-filled beach, an outhouse way back in the bush (no way I’m going back there alone, sorry) and another group of kayakers over on the other side of the bay. As we’re sitting on a huge log to have lunch I’m enjoying myself in the sun, but I keep hearing things behind me. As I look over my shoulder (frequently) all I can think is, wow, is that thick rainforest back there. Anything could be hiding and about to pop out and make snuffling noises while it’s talking to me. Getting paranoid for sure. At least today I know how to find the bear spray. Now, do I remember how to use it? Once again, I give thanks for having Jim beside me.
Anyway, lunch remains uneventful and we set out again. We decide to go back the way we came and so, after paddling beside some huge cliffs with rock faces of every colour and little trees growing impossibly out of what looks like sheer granite, we cut across the mouth of the bay and start the paddle home. Just as we reach the other shore, things, yep, grey and silver… things ….suddenly leap out of the water and back into it at supersonic speed (of course, remember our speed, especially against the tide) right in front of our boat. Just when we both are exclaiming and thinking we’ve been mistaken, it happens again, only twenty feet away from us. Four or five bodies, torpedoes really, leap out of the water, dive in again and are gone. Dolphins!
We are so used to seeing whales now that for a few seconds, dolphins don’t even compute. In addition, our brains can hardly take them in because they’re so FAST! But dolphins they are and so beautiful! Just gorgeous silver flashes of light that can hardly be distinguished from the water and that you think you have imagined. They move in complete sequence and perfection with hardly a splash. Love it.
Anyway, with the dolphins gone and the tide rising, we carry on. Again, this has been a pretty uneventful day, although it’s getting better. We decide to drift into the next bay that comes up, just to get close to its cliffs. Getting closer to land, both of us hear what sounds like a distant dynamite explosion. We have a short discussion about what that could be and even as we’re talking, we hear two or three more muted bangs. As we approach the cliffs, we see a couple sitting on a high point on the shore looking out onto the water with binoculars. We call out a greeting to them and then start to continue on past them. However, the lady on the shore calls to us and says,”They’re right out there, right behind you. Haven’t you heard the thumps?”
And then it dawns on us. It’s whales again, but not orcas. It’s the sound of the monster whales of the Johnstone Strait, the humpbacks. At the same moment as we turn around in the water, we not only hear more thumps but also the telltale whoosh of a humpback blow. In the far distance, sure enough, there they are, recognizable by the massive expanse of black back and spine that protrude above the water.
Off we go again, out of the bay and into the big water. Once again, boats are converging, including several other sets of kayakers. Just as we get into a good position and can clearly see humpbacks heading our way, here comes, unbelievably, a pod of orcas! Now we have orcas in front of us and humpbacks on the other shore. What a day!
Again, we sit and watch the show. The humpbacks are coming slowly across the Strait, leaping and flipping their enormous tails in the air right in front of us. The orcas are playing around the boats, apparently to catch the salmon that are underneath and at same time the humpbacks are coming closer. We don’t know in which direction to look, there’s whales everywhere. Soon, I’m remembering how unbelievably big a humpback whale can be. They actually make the huge orcas look small. Think freight car. Two-story house. Jet liner. And they’re coming closer.
To make a long story short, we now have orcas on one side of us and humpbacks on the other. All the kayakers are calling out to each other and swinging their heads around to catch it all. And me? I’m nervous. The orcas are lovely, smooth and intent on just getting down the Strait and eating salmon. The humpbacks, though, crisscross the water, flip themselves into the air, roll, breach and generally look unpredictable. And they’re so big! The other day I wanted the orcas to come closer. Today, I want the humpbacks to stay away.
Luckily, that’s just what happens. After giving us all a great show, all the whales move on and the Strait becomes quiet and calm again. We continue our journey home and the voices of kayakers can be heard across the water talking excitedly. Everywhere you can hear, “Did you see that one?” and other exclamations. Thinking we are done for the day, we turn into the marina entrance. Just as we do, pow, there’s those silver bullets again. The torpedoes are back. This time, a dozen dolphins whizz past us, glinting silver in the sun and giving us a spectacular finish for the day. Wow, today we’re sure we’ve seen everything. However, that remains to be seen and we have another two weeks to find out. Awesome.