This area is known for its Whale Watching. There are many "Whale Boat Excursions", particularly from Victoria.
Although we were there late in the season, and very few of our boats got to see orca, one of the advantages of sailing was to travel more slowly between ports. This had the benefit of putting us "in the right place, at the right time" to see some whales !
We left Victoria and headed toward the southwest corner of San Juan Island. This was the spot that we were told would be most likely for orca. We were the last boat in the flotilla -- in fact, most of the boats made a bee line for Friday Harbor.
As we approached the coast of the island, we saw the high speed whale excursion boats heading toward an area right in front of us. These boats make a living by finding whales, so they use spotter planes and sonar to track them. Sure enough, when we got close, there was a pod of the whales. We took down our sales and drifted among them. They were curious about this twin-hulled vessel sailing among them.
Joe got many great photographs, and I got about 40 minutes of video, to document our good luck!
Orca surfaces next to Pacific Cat. The research vessel also keeps tabs on other boats, making sure they don't harass the whales