Saturday night I worked at New Wave City and got in about 2 am. Which meant that I had gotten about 4 hours of sleep when the alarm went off at 6:30 am. No matter! There were BIRDIES and WHALES to go visit! And they would have no lateness.
We got to Fort Mason to meet our boat at about 7:30. I had already taken my Dramamine Less Drowsy an hour before takeoff time, and so at 8 am, we were on our way! With about 40 other people. One of whom was some Marina chicklet (she had not fully grown into a Marina chick, as she was not wearing heels or carrying a large purse) and her boyfriend. She complained about her hair and the ten pounds of makeup she had dutifully applied getting mess up as we made our way out through the bay and into the ocean.
I had worn my entire riding get-up, sans helmet, which, as it turned out, was a very fortunate outfit. Standing on deck gets you really, really wet. And it's cold too, but mostly, wet. Seawater, which is super salty and tastes icky. We stood on the deck most of the time, as sitting inside is more for people who wish to get seasick, which I did not.
We first made our way up along the coast of Marin, never getting close enough that I would have the misfortune of meeting any Marin people. We did come upon some harbor seals in a cove, balancing their fat carefully on tiny rocks. Puppies!
Out at a bouy, we found a bunch of sea lions playing in the water. The picture doesn't do it justice. They were jumping up out of the water over and over, and when they traveled as a pack, they were jumping and propelling themselves they way we imagine dolphins doing, only with less finesse and showiness.
We quickly left the sea lions when someone spotted a whale nearby. And as we chased that whale (not really chased, just trying to get closer), and everyone got to the front right of the boat, I was left on the left side of the boat, and something weird was in the water near our path. At first thought? Dead body. No, wait, too much surface area. Not a whale, too ridgey. Then, holy CRAP! The biggest damn turtle I have ever seen! It's unfortunate that I did not have the camera at this point, because I had a very, very clear shot of this thing. I have never seen a turlte in the wild before, and certainly not on e like this. It must have been about 10 feet long? And was floating near the top of the water nearly directly by where I was standing. Beautiful!
Once the captain saw what we had found, he kind of lost his shit and got on the horn to tell all of the other boats, which all stopped whatever they were doing to rush over to see the Leatherback. Leatherbacks are very rare to sight, and very, very endangered. They will most likely be extinct within the next decade or so. To bad, they are cute. And could probably be saved with some party hat fashion, to warn fishers to get them out of their nets.
After all the other boats had come to see the turtle, and it had become less easy to see anyway, we went back on our way, stopping here and there to see whales. The rest of the people on the boat were starting to get seasick as we headed out to the Farallones, so I thought maybe I'd better take a second dose of Dramomine Less drowsy to make sure I did not get sick. Big mistake! That stuff mess you up! Two days later, and a whole lot of extra sleep hours, and I am just feeling normal again.
The shape of the Faralonnes through the fog emerged slowly around the same time the smell emerged. Nature is stinky, and noisy. As we pulled close to them, the noise of the sea lions and gulls is nearly deafening. The islands are covered, literally, with birds; Cormorants hop up the rock face, murrs are hanging out on the beach, gulls are flying around picking stuff out of the water and carrying it up to the top of the rock (I guess they are nesting up there?)
As we floated away from the Faralonnes, we found the water teeming with jelllyfish. I had also never seen jellyfish in the wild, and to see so many was, frankly, a little much. Somebody should eat them! Like the Leatherback, but unfortunately, he was nowhere near there.
Coming back to the bay was a long trip, and everyone was basically passing out. Trying to keep my eyes open on the way, Paul and I sat in the front of the boat by ourselves and got to see several more whales. Each time we saw some whales, people would rush to the front of the boat and then we couldn't see anymore, nor could I sleep. Bummer. This must be when I got sunburned as well. Fortunately, I was wearing a hat to keep the sun off of my scalp.
Eventually, we came back to the bay, where the water got choppy again, and we saw some porpoises. The porpoises were not all that exciting, because you could barely see them in the water. They were not feeling like putting on a performance for us, apparently.
We got back to dock around 3:30 I think (I was so out of it by this point, I just wanted to nap, and could not be bothered by any more whales) and then headed back to Berkeley, where we took a nap, hobbled to dinner, then returned to bed. We were in bed by 8pm! Monday morning I had to be at work early, but still managed a good 9.5 hours of sleep. Unfortunately, no amount of sleep would cut through the thick cloud of Dramamine, and I was drowsy all day Monday as well.
We went whale watching with sfbaywhalewatching.com and I highly recommend them. they seem to really like what they are doing (there is a lot of cool info and pictures at their website) and they allowed a good deal of flexibility in going to see what we wanted, when we wanted. Good times!