It is a thrill to see Orca Killer Whales in the wild. The Island Mariner Cruise company has the perfect boat for whale watching in the San Juan Islands: the Island Caper. This comfortable vessel is 110′ long and provides both inside and outside seating, a full service snack bar and modern restrooms. Join me now as I describe this one of a kind experience.
I have been on three voyages on the Island Caper. The trips are tagged as whale watching cruises. However, these excursions are much more than a trip out to see whales. The course of travel takes you through the magnificent scenery of the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea. The crew of the Island Caper includes not only Captain Doane Brodie but one or two naturalists: Katie Anderson and Dan Bailey.
The crew gives all passengers a lesson in the terminology used on a boat. Bow and stern (front and back of the boat), port and starboard (left and right side, respectively when facing the front (bow) of the boat are explained to all. To point out any wildlife spotted by the naturalists the numbers on a clock face are utilized. For example, when Katie announces “A harbor seal is swimming on the surface at 3 o’clock!” all know to look on the right side of the boat half way between the bow and stern. Get it? This system proved a great way for all to quickly spot the many wildlife sightings.
As the boat travels through the calm waters you are treated to both a live narration and professionally produced taped segments that provides both the natural history and human history of the area.
From the time the boat gets underway all are free to move about. The lower deck is fully enclosed with plenty of windows. The upper deck is half covered with an awning for shade. There are rails around the entire first level and upper level that give ample room for all on board to stand and observe the wildlife and scenery.
The crew maintains a very friendly atmosphere throughout the close to seven hour trip. The narration is easily heard throughout the entire boat. You feel free to sit and listen or roam about and listen.
On the three voyages my family and I have taken we have been blessed to see bald eagles, harbor seals, Steller sea lions, Meinke whales, harbor porpoises, many species of sea birds and of course Orca whales. Each voyage is a new and exciting adventure.
Bellingham is about an hour and a half drive north of Seattle. Detailed information is available on the Island Mariner Cruises website. Many places claim to be a “must see” attraction. A trip on the Island Caper really is a must see.