Right in time for Earth Day week, you have the chance to enjoy a film festival celebrating the beauty of our world’s waterways and the joy of exploring them. Mountain To Sound Outfitters is hosting a tour stop of the Reel Paddling Film Festival, 7 pm Friday (April 24th). The screening venue is just steps from M2SO’s shop in The Triangle, at Pershing Hall (inside the West Seattle Veterans’ Center/American Legion Post 160 building at 37th/Alaska). We just checked with M2SO proprietor Greg Whittaker and he says tickets are still available – buy online or at the door.
Headed home? Enjoy the sunshine – forecast suggests it might not be back tomorrow. Above, a paraglider was in flight again this afternoon over the West Seattle shore – we caught him headed southbound over Emma Schmitz Overlook/Me-Kwa-Mooks. Don’t know if it’s the same one we featured two months ago. Below, the newest state ferry Samish is still out on sea trials; we spotted it this morning from Charlestown Hill:
The Samish is the second of three 144-car ferries being built at Vigor on Harbor Island and is expected to start service in June in the San Juan Islands – but if you see a ferry off West Seattle making unusual moves between now and then, it’s probably this one.
ORIGINAL REPORT, 4:39 PM: Thanks to Don Brubeck for these photos showing some of what was up and who was out along West Seattle shores this afternoon.
P.S. At least one more sunny day is in store, according to the forecast – and if you have the chance to be out at the beach in the early afternoon, it’s the lowest tide of the month, -1.7 feet at 12:47 pm on Monday.
ADDED 5:13 PM: Speaking of low tide – an incident at Alki today is a reminder for boaters:
Mark just shared that video of a small boat getting some help to get un-stuck during this morning’s low tide.
Thanks to Lindsay for sharing the video – without much notice, two killer whales headed south along Vashon Island shores earlier today, around 1 pm. She says the sighting was a surprise, while she was giving a tour of the area to two friends visiting from Colorado. Also, a texter told us of a sighting near Brown’s Point in Tacoma, so if you’re by the water, keep watch – they’ll have to come back this way sooner or later.
Thanks to Nicole for the photo – this caught some eyes on the water off West Seattle’s western shores early this evening. Reminds us of the photo shoot last month involving a boat built for the Tunisian Navy. But according to our friends at Beach Drive Blog, who had a front-row seat this time, the helicopter clearly had a camera mount and the name on the yacht began with Endurance. BDB wondered if it might be one of these yachts. (Maybe the E720?)
FOLLOWUP: First vessel to arrive as part of Shell’s Arctic fleet, Aiviq, now docked at Terminal 5; Polar Pioneer/Blue Marlin approaching Strait of Juan de FucaApril 16, 2015 at 11:21 am | In Seen at sea, West Seattle news | 28 Comments
11:21 AM: Thanks to David Hutchinson for the photo, and to others for the tips: The first vessel in Shell‘s Arctic-drilling/support fleet has arrived in Seattle, and has docked at Terminal 5 (per MarineTraffic.com). It’s the Aiviq, mentioned here just last night in connection with the U.S. Coast Guard’s announcement of “safety zones” around the vessels expected here as part of Foss’s T-5 lease. The Aiviq is a three-year-old icebreaker that was among the Shell-related vessels that spent time here in 2012 before the company’s most-recent Arctic drilling attempts.
ADDED 11:52 AM: And for the first time in the weeks we’ve been watching for it, the Blue Marlin, carrying the drilling platform Polar Pioneer, is in MarineTraffic.com range, approaching the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the northwesternmost tip of Washington state, on schedule with its announced arrival in Port Angeles by tomorrow.
10:46 AM: According to a text tipster and the Orca Network Facebook page, you just might see orcas between Fauntleroy and Vashon right now – heading slowly southbound, according to observers, but at some point they might turn around, so this is your official heads-up that they’re in the area. Please comment if you see them! (And we ALWAYS appreciate texted tips about so many things – 206-293-6302, any time of the day/night.)
12:24 PM: We didn’t have any luck right around 11 from the Brace Point area – but two commenters have been watching more recently – thanks for the updates!
ADDED 7:44 AM: Some video from Wednesday, posted to YouTube and credited to Alisa Lemire Brooks/Orca Network, identifying these orcas as transients, not residents.
Congratulations to frequent WSB contributor “Diver Laura” James and her colleagues on that 2014 KCTS report about the sea-star die-off – they’ve been nominated for the Pacific Northwest Emmy Awards. That’s one of two nominations for Laura – her underwater photography of the sea-star situation also is part of another Emmy-nominated KCTS report, “Is Alaska Safe for Starfish?” Last year, she won one for another public-TV project, about sea otters and climate change. The full list of this year’s regional Emmy Award nominations is here; the winners will be announced in June.
The Port of Seattle says you will see a container ship at closed-since-last-summer Terminal 5 in West Seattle starting tonight. But it has nothing to do with the Foss lease/Shell/etc. According to an FYI note we received from spokesperson Peter McGraw: “The Hanjin Copenhagen will be at T-5 starting this evening for the next few days to address a Coast Guard requirement before leaving port.” According to MarineTraffic.com, the ship is crossing the bay right now, so should be docking at T-5 soon.
(WSB photo, taken from Vashon Island on March 29th)
You’ll be seeing a lot more of the M/V Sally Fox off West Seattle shores starting tomorrow afternoon: Vashon Island’s new Water Taxi officially goes into service with the 4:30 pm run on Wednesday, as just announced by the county. Here’s our coverage of the Sally Fox dedication ceremony on Vashon a week and a half ago. It’s a twin to the M/V Doc Maynard, under construction now and due to take over the West Seattle Water Taxi run in October.
(Photo by naturalist/researcher Jeanne Hyde, Maya’s Legacy Whale Watching)
Word started getting around last night that Puget Sound’s orcas, the Southern Resident Killer Whales, have another new baby – and researchers have confirmed that this is the fourth calf spotted in three months. Three of them, including this one, were born to J Pod. The first report came from the Pacific Whale Watch Association; one of its members, Maya’s Legacy Whale Watching, spotted the baby off Galiano Island, British Columbia, on Monday. This means the SRKWs – J Pod, K Pod, L Pod – are up to 81 orcas in the wild (and the 82nd, Tokitae/Lolita, in captivity in Florida). The newest baby is J52; it’s been exactly three months since J50 was spotted, followed by J51 in mid-February, and then the L Pod baby two weeks later.
(WSB photo added: M/V Samish in Elliott Bay early this evening, after sea trials off western WS)
We’ve just received a flurry of calls about a ferry off west-facing West Seattle shores, outside the usual lanes and apparently closer to shore than ferries usually get, plus, one texter says it’s “going in circles.” We mentioned it on Friday but if you missed that – it’s just the new, Vigor-built ferry Samish, out on sea trials before it officially joins the fleet. (The larger Tacoma, which had also been testing off WS following repairs, is now back on the Bainbridge run.)
(Photo by DLBJ)
Thanks to everyone who’s shared photos of the yachts seen today off West Seattle’s west-facing shores … it’s the Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle‘s Three Tree Point race.
(Photo by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
ADDED SATURDAY EVENING: More photos.
(Photo by Gary Jones)
Couple more to come. Results from today’s race are linked from this page on the club’s website.
10:51 AM: Two notes about ferries that appeared to be “dead in the water off Alki” this morning remind us that we should mention this again: Washington State Ferries has two vessels in testing/sea trials in and around Elliott Bay right now, and if you see something unusual, it’s probably one (or both!) of them. The Tacoma is still on sea trials after months of repairs, before returning to the Bainbridge Island run; the Samish, newly built at Vigor on Harbor Island, is testing before officially joining the fleet.
ADDED FRIDAY NIGHT: Turns out M/V Tacoma is officially going back into service tomorrow (Saturday, March 28), according to this announcement from WSF.
2:47 PM: An unusual sighting, shared by Gary Jones, who photographs from Alki Point: Seen in the noon hour, a boat marked “Tunisia Navy,” with two helicopters nearby.
Their markings match what we saw on two helicopters passing overhead, westbound, one behind the other, as we arrived at HQ in Upper Fauntleroy after a noontime trip.
Backstory? We don’t know yet. At first, we wondered about a movie shoot (Seattle wouldn’t seem to be much of a stand-in for Tunisia, which is on the Mediterranean Sea in North Africa, but you’ll recall Alki doubling for Florida) – then a bit of Googling revealed that the U.S. donated two similar types of patrol boats to Tunisia seven months ago and was planning to donate more. Still checking around. Know anything? email@example.com as always.
8:44 PM: After a couple of e-mail tipsters suggested we check with local boatmakers that build military-style patrol boats, we sent out queries around 5 pm and just received this reply from sales manager Kevin Rowlee at Bremerton-based SAFE Boats International:
Yes, that was a boat built by SAFE Boats International. It is a “65 Full Cabin – Inboard” destined for the Tunisia Navy. The boat you saw was the second of two boats purchased under the same contract.
Commenter Brian confirms the photo-shoot angle.
Thanks to Norman for the tip via Twitter, and we see the Orca Network Facebook commenters are discussing it too: Orcas turned up along the Bainbridge ferry route earlier this morning and have now been seen heading south along West Seattle (Me-Kwa-Mooks, says Norman) – let us know if you see them!
FRIDAY NIGHT, 9:59 PM: For West Seattle water watchers who appreciate advance notice of significant sail-bys – the U.S. Navy sent word today that the carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) will be heading back out from Bremerton on Monday (March 23rd), for at-sea training exercises. No specific time yet.
MONDAY MORNING, 9:19 AM: The Stennis may already have gone by – we checked MarineTraffic.com a few minutes ago and there is an unspecified “Navy unit” already north of Elliott Bay. (9:45 note – yes, it’s passed, and we’re publishing reader photos.)
Quick FYI in case you had blocked out the date for the Port of Seattle‘s free “West Seattle Working Waterfront” boat tour next month, promoted by port reps at several community-council meetings recently and mentioned in our subsequent reports: We got word today that it’s been postponed. Port events manager Mary Jean Stephens says it’s been rescheduled for the morning of September 19th; registration information will recirculate during the summer.
(Added 4 pm: Texted photo – thanks!)
Like the Constellation last year, the mothballed aircraft carrier USS Ranger is now under tow from Bremerton to a Texas scrapyard. MarineTraffic.com shows it off south Bainbridge with tugboats including the 155-foot oceangoing tug Lindsey Foss; it should be visible from north West Seattle. Here are details from the Kitsap Sun, which reports the USS Independence will be next to make the same, final journey.
ADDED: Thanks to Gary Jones for the photo added above this line.
(WSDOT photo from Wednesday as Tacoma’s tow got under way from Bainbridge Island)
If you saw that big state ferry under tow in Elliott Bay toward downtown on Wednesday – it was the M/V Tacoma, and you’ll see a lot more of it from here over the next three weeks, even before it goes back into service on the Bainbridge-Seattle run next month following seven months of work. From the Washington State Ferries‘ announcement about its sea trials:
… Starting (today) people may see the Tacoma in Elliott Bay or at Colman Dock as crews conduct three weeks of sea trials to thoroughly test the ferry’s new circuit breaker.
“During the past seven months, we inspected and rebuilt the damaged propulsion switchboard system,” said Tim Browning, acting director of vessel maintenance and preservation. “Now it’s time to test the system and make sure it is working properly while the vessel is underway.” …
Once the testing is complete, the Tacoma will undergo its annual U.S. Coast Guard safety inspection before returning to service on the Seattle/Bainbridge Island route in April.
The Tacoma, built in 1997, lost power on July 29, 2014, while traveling from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. A design flaw prevented a protective circuit-breaker device to work as it should. This caused a chain of events that resulted in significant damage to the electrical switchboard components, which ultimately led to the power failure.
P.S. Thanks to Janna for the tip about this.
— NOAA Fisheries NWFSC (@NOAAFish_NWFSC) February 26, 2015
Announced this morning – the third calf born to Puget Sound’s resident orcas in the past two months! First came the two babies born to J Pod – we learned about J50 in late December, and then two weeks ago J51 was spotted; and today, NOAA Fisheries announces a baby seen with L Pod as its scientists tracked the whales off the seacoast. “The calf looked very energetic,” NOAA’s Brad Hanson reported.
While whale experts warn that mortality rates are high even in the best of times, this is nonetheless yet another sign of hope for the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. As noted when we covered one of The Whale Trail‘s orca talks here in West Seattle last fall, the resident pods previously hadn’t seen a birth in two years, and that calf did not survive.
(Click picture to see larger image)
With the county launching Water Taxi Watch and planning the debut of the new Vashon Island Water Taxi M/V Sally Fox for late March, we asked how construction is proceeding with West Seattle’s new vessel, the M/V Doc Maynard. In response, the county Department of Transportation shared the photo taken at All American Marine in Bellingham, where, KCDOT spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok says, “Last week the engines were inserted into the hull and the cabin was also attached to the hull. We are still on target for delivery of the vessel this fall.”
When the new vessels are both in service, the county plans to keep Spirit of Kingston, the current West Seattle Water Taxi, as a backup. It has already stopped leasing the SoK’s predecessor Rachel Marie – which went into service on the West Seattle run in 2010 – and will do so with the current Vashon vessel Melissa Ann. The two new boats’ cost will total $11.8 million, 80 percent of which is being covered by federal funding.
P.S. The Water Taxi’s 7-day-a-week schedule resumes April 6th.
(Screengrab from Water Taxi Watch)
Wondering where your Water Taxi is? Just announced:
The King County Marine Division (KCMD) is excited to announce that we have gone live with our Water Taxi Watch system.
Water Taxi Watch, modeled after Washington State Ferries’ (WSF) very popular VesselWatch, allows you to track vessels on our routes in real time, including their position, speed, and direction. You can also find arrival and departure schedules and other useful information on the site. Hopefully the next foggy morning you are down at the dock and cannot see your vessel, you will be able to use this new tool to track the status of your boat.
This project was funded by a Federal Transit Administration technology grant and is a collaborative effort between WSF and the King County Marine Division. Please visit our website at kingcounty.gov/watertaxi for a link to this exciting new feature!
(Note: The site currently lists the vessel’s estimated arrival time. This is an estimate based on the scheduled crossing time added to the actual departure time and does not account for weather or other delays during the crossing)
The direct link is here – it’s hosted on the Washington State Ferries website (you’ll notice that it lists WSF vessels as well), and as noted in the announcement, is reachable via a button from the Water Taxi homepage.
SIDE NOTE: While there’s no official announcement from the county yet (we’re checking), BikeVashon says the first new Water Taxi, M/V Sally Fox (which will be on the Seattle-Vashon route), is expected to be dedicated March 28th.
We don’t know who it was (do you?), but – James Bratsanos shared these views of a powered paraglider, cruising over the south West Seattle shoreline this afternoon.
A bit further north, Beach Drive Blog spotted the flyer too.
One day after the tentative contract agreement between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association (terminal operators) was announced, the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma have sent their official comment:
The ports of Seattle and Tacoma are relieved to hear of the tentative deal between the ILWU and PMA.
Operations at our terminals will resume Saturday evening. We are uncertain how long it will take to move the remaining cargo on our docks and awaiting vessels, and to assess the effects this has had on our gateway.
Our combined ports support more than 200,000 jobs throughout the region, many of them depending on the freight moving through our terminals.
We will do everything we can to support our customers in getting this gateway back to our high standards of reliability and efficiency.
MarineTraffic.com shows no container ships at anchor in Elliott Bay right now, but three off Manchester, a holding zone for Tacoma. No word, meantime, when ratification votes will happen.
Late-night extra – another peek beneath the surface, courtesy of “Diver Laura” James. This is likely the first in a series of glimpses into the undersea world beyond the most-popular dive spots near Seacrest; in this short video, she shows you around at Cormorant Cove, the city park off Beach Drive by the Harbor West condos-on-pilings.
P.S. While you won’t see them because they were tucked away in crevices, Laura says “some surviving Ochre Sea Stars (the purple ones) and some young Mottled Stars (the orange ones)” were in view. She also calls our attention to South Sound U.S. Rep. Denny Heck‘s reintroduction of a bill to provide federal help to try to solve marine-disease emergencies like sea-star wasting syndrome – read about it here.
Two notes on the ongoing contract-talks stalemate between West Coast port-terminal operators and longshore workers:
(Northeastward view over ships anchored off Manchester; photo by Long Bach Nguyen)
TERMINALS CLOSED AGAIN TODAY: Today is the fourth day (of the past five) that terminals remain closed to ship offloading by order of the Pacific Maritime Association, the umbrella organization for terminal operators on the West Coast. So far, they’re expected to reopen tomorrow; that could mean major truck traffic on roads to local terminals, such as lower Spokane St. and East Marginal, which backed up last Friday when terminals reopened after the first day of closure. Nine cargo ships are anchored off Seattle and Manchester today, as shown on MarineTraffic.com (and in the photos with this story)
(Bulk-cargo ships anchored off Magnolia, seen from West Seattle; photo by Chris Panarello; [added Tuesday] note – commenter points out the grain terminal is not part of the current situation)
LABOR SECRETARY IN SAN FRANCISCO TOMORROW: There’s an update today on the plan for U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez to intervene by talking with the PMA and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union: The Bay Area’s NBC station reports via Twitter that Perez will meet with both sides in San Francisco tomorrow. No details yet.
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