We are set to have a VERY fun October. The San Juan Islands in Washington State were selected by National Geographic as one of the World’s Top 3 destinations. The waters around the San Juan Islands are home to orcas (killer whales), minke whales, gray whales, steller sea lions, porpoise, otters, and a dizzying array of seabirds.
In October, we hope you can join us for either of two, 3-day wildlife cruises we’ll be running.
On each tour, our Naturalist will be Bob Boekelheide (formerly Director of the Dungeness River Audubon Center). Bob’s life-long interest has been the ecology of marine vertebrates, particularly birds and mammals. With an M.S. in Ecology from UC Davis, Bob participated in several marine research projects, including seven years as biologist at the Farallon Islands off San Francisco. While there, he coauthored a book and several papers about the marine ecology of seabirds and marine mammals.
A certificated teacher, Bob taught science and math in WA public schools, including marine science and environmental studies. He is the compiler of the annual Sequim-Dungeness Christmas Bird Count and the Clallam County International Migratory Bird Count, and maintains records of Clallam County Birds for the Washington Ornithological Society.
- 3 days/ 2 nights roundtrip cruise aboard the M/V Glacier Spirit.
- Small-ship cruising through the spectacular San Juan Archipelago and Deception Pass.
- Personal ship-board naturalist providing in-depth information about birds, whales, porpoises, history, and the islands.
- Overnight accommodations at historic Roche Harbor Resort.
We’ll leave Port Townsend at 10am on September 29 aboard the comfortable MV Glacier Spirit. While crossing the strait of Juan de Fuca a light breakfast will be served. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is bordered by three mountain ranges, the Olympic Peninsula and the San Juan Islands. It is one of the most beautiful seas to cross in the world. Along the way our captain will point out many seabirds and mammals that frequent these waters. Depending on where the orcas are traveling that day, we may also be fortunate to see them in transit.
After lunch onboard the boat, we’ll reach our home base for the next couple of days – Roche Harbor Resort, on San Juan Island. The story of Roche Harbor began more than 200 years ago, in 1787, when Captain de Haro and his crew became the first Europeans to actually sail among the forested San Juan Islands.
In 1886, a sleepy Hudson Bay camp was transformed into a full-fledged lime works and company town. Today because of it’s beauty and location to Canada, Roche Harbor is the most popular boating resort in the Pacific Northwest and the Resort is renowned as the centerpiece of this harbor.
After arrival, you will have plenty of time to explore on your own to the scenery around Roche Harbor. Hiking, kayak and bike rentals, tennis and swimming, are all possibilities for you to enjoy. Dinner is on your own in the evening at Roche Harbor Resort.
On September 30 we’ll board the Glacier Spirit at 9:30 for a wonderful day of sightseeing and hiking through the San Juan Islands. We will journey to famous Sucia Island State Park for 2 hours of hiking.
Sucia Island State Park is a 564-acre marine park with 77,700 feet of shoreline. It is considered the crown jewel of the state’s marine park system and is consistently ranked as one of the top boating destinations in the world.
The shoreline is famous for its evocative, highly eroded sandstone formations – with cliffs, hoodoos, arches, and caves. Sucia Island is also a tremendous viewing area for seals, porpoise, eagles, seabirds, and whales.
Upon arrival at Sucia, a sack lunch is provided for you as you explore the island for the next two hours. We’ll return to Roche Harbor at 4:30 where you can enjoy the late afternoon and dinner on your own.
On October 1, we begin our return loop back to Port Townsend. We’ll say goodbye to Roche Harbor at 9am. We will head on a new course through the islands, south through the Swinomish Slough and on through Deception Pass. Wildlife should be plentiful and the scenery simply stunning.
After taking in the historic La Conner waterfront and the nearby tidelands, soaking in the views and the endless variety of shorebirds, we will journey through the wild tide currents of Deception Pass.
Back out on Strait of Juan de Fuca we will head south past Smith Island Marine Sanctuary – an island in the middle of the sea that is home to thousands of seabirds and mammals. Weather permitting, we expect to arrive in Port Townsend at 3pm.