Navigating

We leave for Seguin Island Lighthouse sometime over the next few days. Initial plan was Tues but by late last week, I started to watch the weather and saw strong north winds and high seas in the forecast. It still looks that way until at least late Wednesday.

This is the way it goes. We have been island caretakers for five different islands and they all have their sweet spot. North winds don’t work for Seguin because they create waves onto the rocky beach. We learned that over the years. Our first time here, the skies were blue and crisp, looked beautiful, but it came with a north wind. We waited a week.

Baker’s Island has an exposed beach and a rocky landing. Especially fun with cats. For many reasons, including the fact we don’t currently have any, we no longer travel with cats.

Shirley, Baker’s Island

Deal Island, Tasmania, in the Bass Strait, was the roughest. There’s always a west wind and you pound into waves for four hours from the east unless you catch a plane. The boat ride off island has always been lovely.

Protection Island, Washington and Five Finger Lighthouse had tides to contend with. We could only leave on a medium tide in Protection and Alaska had 25 foot tide changes so no boat could anchor nearby, it was a scramble on and off the rocks.

Alaska ferry
Alaska Quest

So while I have coffee at home in the Adirondacks, where there has been frost on the ground every morning, I check the weather update and contemplate another wet boat ride. It’s always worth it.

Just breathe

I am preparing a talk about our lighthouse caretaking adventures and have been poring over photos, videos and sound clips.

This is what we heard all day and night in Alaska.  We had our own meditation instructors swimming around the island.  If only I had remembered this my first few times in the pool. I recorded it in a high tech fashion.  I put my iPhone in a metal bowl.

WARNING: Listening to this clip may cause you to either fall asleep or become so completely relaxed you find it impossible to do anything for the rest of the day.

Whale watching

The strangest thing about being in this lighthouse is most of the creatures around us breathe above water.  Other places fish swim and we never know they are out there.  Here they sigh all day: whales, seals, sea lions, otters, and orcas.  We can hear whales breaching and splashing 10 miles away but the audio video isn’t aligned.  First there is a big splash off in the distance and then ten seconds later we hear it.  Go figure.  Yesterday morning was windy so there was no audio but lots of  visuals.  There was a pod of whales heading north, which stalled offshore the island.  There were at least six breath bursts in a line while some whales dove.

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Later in the day, the wind settled down and a whale came right by the edge of the island and the water was so clear, its fins were visible underwater.

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I went to sit on the new bench on the south end of the island and on my way back, thought I saw a chicken in the tree.  A chicken in the tree?  Why would it be sitting right next to the eagle’s nest?  Because it wasn’t a chicken, it was a young eagle, one of two fledglings we saw for the first time.  They weren’t impressed by our presence at all.

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Tonight, while we were eating dinner outside, a fledgling took its maiden flight accompanied by an adult bald eagle.  The adult landed on its usual offshore perch, but we never saw where the young one ended.  I’m sure I heard it whining though.

Last night I finally got to stargaze because the days are getting shorter, only 15 hours now and the sky is clear.  The sun rises at 5:15 am and sets at 8:44.  I managed to get out in the dark for one of the few times and was greeted by the big dipper low in the sky to the north.  No wonder it is the symbol on the Alaskan flag.  I also got to see the lighthouse functioning as it should.

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Today brought all sorts of whale hi jinx.  They were breaching all over the place but none too close to the island.  One pair seemed to be sleeping for a while because they weren’t really moving and they rose and fell with their breaths.  Then when they woke up, the games began.

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A good time was had by all.

 

 

Wild life

Whale activity ebbs and flows, not predictably with the tide or weather.  There were a lot of passersby today.

By some miracle, the internet turned on and I may be able to upload pictures.

We’ve had whale breaches, breaths and dives.  Ravens and crows yell all day, black turnstones circumnavigate the island in a flock and harlequin ducks float off the south end of the island.

We’ve been busy with houseguests and projects but are once again the only human inhabitants on the island.

Visitors arrived by landing craft, tour boats, helicopter, schooners, kayaks and a rowing dory. Time to take a breath myself.

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