West Seattle, Washington
Lea contacted us after seeing this happen off Beach Drive, just in case someone out there lost a paddleboard and is wondering what happened to it:
A white paddleboard floating in Puget Sound between Lincoln Park and Alki Point was picked up by the Coast Guard at 11:15 this morning. There was no one on the board.
Thanks to Jim Borrow for the photo, taken at 7:19 am. The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) was heading home this morning after three weeks away (we last noted it outbound on September 1st). It’s reported to have been “conducting flight deck certification, carrier qualification, and training in the operations areas off San Diego.”
7:58 AM: Thanks for the texted updates! Orcas are now reported to be southbound past the 4100 block of Beach Drive; we had an earlier report of some in Elliott Bay. Let us know if you see them!
8:18 AM: We have conflicting reports on direction so we’ll just amend this to “seen off West Seattle.”
8:26 AM: Thanks to Bruce Easter for the photo from the Elliott Bay sighting – added above.
What a way to start the day! Thanks to the King County Water Taxi‘s West Seattle crew for sharing that video – from the Doc Maynard, they saw orcas on this morning’s 6:15 and 6:35 am sailings, Frank Massaro tells WSB, adding that crew member Jade Farrar recorded the video during the latter.
10:09 AM: Thanks to Kersti Muul for the texted alert – she says transient orcas have been sighted headed this way, southbound toward Alki Point – one week after this visit. Let us know if you see them!
10:42 AM: Update from Kersti (also in comments below) – they’re now visible from Alki Point Lighthouse.
3:07 PM: Three photos added above, all taken by Kersti at Constellation Park. (If you see whales off West Seattle, that’s always breaking news, so please let us know, text or voice, via our 24/7 hotline, 206-293-6302 – thank you!)
The photos are from Kersti Muul, one of the first people to let us know this morning – texting our 24/7 hotline at 206-293-6302 – that transient orcas were headed this way.
She reports, “Some that have been ID’d so far (but not in total) are: T101, T102 and 36B’s, T37A1, T36,” saying T102 is the “large male” in her photos, which were taken from various spots on West Seattle’s west-facing shore.
“They traveled slow, and stealthy, disappearing smoothly into the milky, smokey horizon. Reappearing with exhale. Our beautiful marine kin. When T102 first surfaced, I was alone, as was he. It was thrilling to share a moment of peace with him.” Then she saw them again headed north this evening:
The evening pass wasn’t quite so peaceful, with one group of boaters disregarding the Be Whale Wise guidelines: “These young men went barreling towards the three Ts and everyone on shore gasped. I reported them to NOAA. This is a good example of behavior we really want to call out and change.”:
Now – here’s a way you can help educate. One of the groups Kersti works with, Whale Scout, has volunteer orientation/training events coming up – one of them not far away. Noon-4 pm September 17th at Seahurst Park‘s Environmental Learning Center. She explains: “Volunteers will be trained to help people figure out where, and how to watch whales from shore, restore salmon habitat and learn how to ID individual whales. It is an excellent opportunity to discover just how well you can watch whales in West Seattle, as well as how you can help our critically endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, and the dwindling salmon runs they rely upon.” Here’s more information. This training will be just in time for what Kersti says is the anticipated return of the Southern Resident Killer Whales to our area, likely next month.
9:31 AM: Thanks to two texters for the heads-up via our hotline (206-293-6302) – orcas are headed this way, southbound. Kersti Muul says they were seen off Golden Gardens (Ballard); an unsigned text says they were seen off West Point on the north side of Elliott Bay. Please let us know if you see them!
10:06 AM: An Orca Network commenter says at least two are headed toward Alki Point, still southbound, as of a few minutes ago.
1:53 PM: Beautiful Saturday all around Puget Sound, including the route for this morning’s Great Cross-Sound Race, which takes Sound Rowers competitors from Alki to Blakely Rock (off Bainbridge Island) and back. The solo racer at right in our top photo is Greg Barton, the Olympic gold medalist, who came in first, in 55:58; Kevin Olney and Paul Clement were 11 seconds behind. Here’s the full list of results – we’ll be adding more photos later.
ADDED 11:38 PM: #31, Evan Jacobs (58:30), and #32, Tyler Peterson (59:04), were fifth and sixth, respectively, overall:
Rowing together in 2006, they set the course record.
The top quad entry was #4, T. Batty, T. Silver, A. Storb, and R. Storb (57:40):
The rest of this year’s races are listed here.
Like the superstructure of the state ferry Chimacum last year, the superstructure for the new ferry Suquamish will be passing West Seattle on its way to Vigor. This time, though, the superstructure is coming here from the south, not the north. From the news release announcing the move:
About a year before its scheduled official launch as the newest member of Washington State Ferries’ fleet, the superstructure of the 144-car ferry Suquamish will move by barge from Jesse Co.’s fabrication facility near the Port of Tacoma to Vigor’s Harbor Island Shipyard in Seattle.
The superstructure is expected to leave Tacoma on Wednesday afternoon, travel up Puget Sound and arrive at Harbor Island in Seattle on Thursday morning.
The movement of the superstructure, or top half, of the 362-foot vessel is not only a major milestone but also illustrative of the wide-ranging jobs and economic impact of building ferries in this state.
Jesse Co. is one of more than a dozen subcontractors working with Vigor on the Suquamish, the state’s fourth new Olympia Class ferry. Each 144-car ferry built in Washington generates up to 560 direct jobs at shipyards and subcontractors, and a total of 1,300 direct, indirect and induced jobs in the Puget Sound region.
“We take great pride in helping build quality ferries for the State of Washington,” Phil Jesse, General Manager of Jesse Co. said. “The work is important, the jobs are great, and our families and future generations are able to ride and watch the ferries travel on Puget Sound for many years to come.”
The movement of the Suquamish superstructure to Seattle is scheduled to begin Wednesday morning when it is loaded onto a barge at Jesse Co.’s facility in Tacoma. At the same time Vigor is scheduled to move the Suquamish hull, or bottom half, which is being built on Harbor Island, into its massive drydock. The superstructure is scheduled to arrive at Vigor early Thursday and will be joined to the hull on Friday.
Completing the construction of the vessel with all necessary engineering, propulsion, electrical, safety and other components prior to sea trials will take approximately 11 more months. The Suquamish is scheduled for delivery to Washington State Ferries in July of 2018.
The Suquamish will be the fourth and final currently authorized addition of new Olympic Class 144-car ferries to the WSF fleet, following the Tokitae in 2014, Samish in 2015 and Chimacum earlier this year. Construction cost of the Olympic Class 144-car ferries has been within one percent of the projected budget on each vessel.
“Building these ferries is extremely gratifying to our workers and helps strengthen our company and the maritime industry,” Vigor CEO Frank Foti said. “The skills and expertise required are essential to maritime, and the middle-income manufacturing jobs provide great opportunity for industrial artisans and help diversify the economy.”
“All of us at Vigor are honored to do this work for Washington State Ferries and for the people who will use these ferries for decades to come,” continued Foti.
Maritime is a $30 billion industry for the State of Washington and provides more than 148,000 jobs, according to a study by the Economic Development Council and Workforce Development Council of Seattle and King County.
Washington State ferries are built to serve for 60 years with appropriate maintenance. That’s the longest lifespan of virtually any vessel fleet. In comparison the U.S. Navy typically retires vessels after 35 years, the Coast Guard after 30 years, and BC Ferries at 40 years.
The schedule could change, but the current plan is for the superstructure to start its voyage from Tacoma to Seattle around 5 pm tomorrow, and arrive at Vigor on Harbor Island “early Thursday morning.” You’ll be able to track it by watching the progress of the transport tug, Pacific Knight, via MarineTraffic.com.
Thanks to the texter who just sent that photo, saying they were seeing whales from Colman Pool on the shore at Lincoln Park, headed northbound.
Alex Rottler spotted those two jellyfish while paddleboarding about a week ago off the 5000 block of Beach Drive and wanted to share the photo. As best Alex, and we, can ID them, it’s a lion’s-mane jellyfish that used its long, stinging tentacles to capture an egg-yolk jellyfish; read about both here.
1:03 PM: Running later than usual – due along the downtown waterfront at 1 pm but just now approaching Alki, passing South Bainbridge – the Seafair Parade of Ships has begun. (And yes, that’s why you’re seeing helicopters over Elliott Bay to the north.)
The two US Navy ships, destroyer USS Michael Murphy and amphibious-transport USS Anchorage, are in the lead, followed by Royal Canadian Navy ships and the US Coast Guard cutter Mellon. And a Seattle Fire Department fireboat is just off mid-Alki awaiting them. Still very hazy from wildfire smoke, so visibility isn’t good enough to photograph them until they’re passing.
Fireboat and Navy ships as Seafair Parade passes Alki pic.twitter.com/LgjxETKhCP
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) August 2, 2017
1:22 PM: Now passing Alki, with the fireboat spraying a welcome.
1:40 PM: The fireboat and Navy ships are about to round Duwamish Head, with the Canadian and USCG ships passing mid-Alki behind them.
5:26 PM: Photos added. The ships are now docked downtown – if you’re interested in touring them, this Seafair webpage has the times, places, and rules.
Thanks to Gary Jones for the photo – while we were covering the plane recovery off Beach Drive, he was photographing the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) passing Alki Point, arriving for Seafair Fleet Week. Tomorrow (Wednesday, August 2nd), the Pearl Harbor-homeported ship is scheduled to (again) sail past West Seattle’s north-facing shore, headed to downtown, during the Seafair Parade of Ships – 1 pm is the official start time, but in past years they’ve appeared off Alki closer to 12:30. The full Parade of Ships lineup – scheduled to include another Navy ship, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter, and two Royal Canadian Navy vessels – is on this Seafair webpage, along with information on touring them Thursday-Sunday.
ABOUT THE HAZE: You might notice the photo looks a little murky. The air’s grown increasingly hazy in the past few hours, and @WestSeaWx says it’s wildfire smoke, mostly blowing down this way from British Columbia, which is being hit very hard this season.
12:01 PM: Sandy beach, blue water, Hawaiian music, outrigger canoes … it’s a little bit of aloha right now on Alki, east of the bathhouse, as the Seattle Outrigger Canoe Club‘s “Da Grind” day of racing continues. The men’s long-course racers (to Blake Island and back) are scheduled to head out soon; the women’s long-course racers got going around 9:30 this morning; short-course racers (about 4 miles along Alki and back) are scheduled around 2 pm.
Spectators are welcome and are in fact lining the seawall as the canoes go by; the club has numerous tents on the sand, too.
The racing is scheduled to continue until the awards ceremony around 3:30 this afternoon.
3:31 PM: More photos added.
The races weren’t held last year because of what the club calls a racing-schedule change.
Thanks to Greg for the photo – a few minutes before it came in, someone had texted about a submarine sighting off Beach Drive, but there was no way we could get downhill to try for a photo; then, this arrived. As is usually the case for military vessels, this one isn’t showing on MarineTraffic.com, so we don’t know which sub it is. Greg said it was headed northbound.
SIDE NOTE: We just noticed that Seafair has finally posted the list of five vessels participating in the Parade of Ships on Wednesday, August 2nd, visible off West Seattle’s north-facing shores as they head into Elliott Bay – see it here.
(2015 photo courtesy Kathryn)
The reader-contributed photo above is from 2015, the last year the Seattle Outrigger Canoe Club ran its “Da Grind” races from Alki, subsequently taking last year off. The races are back for this year, and in case you want to watch – or participate – the club wants you to know it’s happening next Saturday (July 29th), with four- and 12-mile courses, and projected start times at 9:30 am, noon, and 2 pm. The award ceremony is expected around 3:30 pm.
Seagoing sights this morning:
SS PACIFIC TRACKER HEADS OUT: Thanks to Huck for that photo – after almost a week docked in West Seattle, the missile-defense-radar ship SS Pacific Tracker headed out this morning. Here’s our report on its arrival last weekend. The info on MarineTraffic.com doesn’t list a destination.
USNS BENAVIDEZ TO BREMERTON: Thanks to Greg for that photo – visible from West Seattle on its way to Bremerton this morning was the USNS Benavidez, a Military Sealift Command ship that serves as a “dry cargo surge sealift carrier.”
ORIGINAL REPORT, 9:19 PM SATURDAY: Remember six years ago, when the bulbous SBX was a floating fixture here for a few months? Tonight, another missile-defense radar vessel is visiting West Seattle – the SS Pacific Tracker. It and the SBX are both featured in this 2014 roundup of “The Wild Radar Ships That Make Missile Defense Possible.” Thanks to Paul Nicholson for today’s tip and photo; the Northwest Seaport Alliance schedule shows the Pacific Tracker scheduled to be in port in Seattle until Monday; MarineTraffic.com shows it berthed right now at Terminal 5. MT also shows it came here from Honolulu; it and another missile-defense ship were reported to be there last month “after participating in a first-of-its-kind test intercept of an intercontinental ballistic missile target high over the Pacific on May 30.”
MONDAY UPDATE: Port spokesperson Peter McGraw tells us it’ll be here about a week: “It’s taking on some provisions for the crew, fuel and water. It may have some light maintenance performed, as well.”
Thanks for the text – transient orcas are reported to be headed this way, southbound past West Point on the other side of Elliott Bay. Let us know if you see them!
From Alisa with Orca Network, word of orcas headed this way: “At 10:40 am there are approximately five Bigg’s/Transient orcas now grouped, in Bainbridge Island/Seattle ferry lanes, east side of the channel heading southbound slowly, sometimes stalling, skirting mid-Elliott Bay.” And she stresses that they are “going on long down times” – but still, if you have the chance to grab your binoculars and go look, you might see whales. Let us know if you do!
(USCGC Mellon in 2014 Seafair Parade of Ships, courtesy of Greg)
Continuing our look ahead to some of what’s coming up this summer – since the Seafair website just mentions August 1st through 6th as Fleet Week, without other specifics, we asked about the Parade of Ships, usually a popular sight as the visiting military ships “parade” past West Seattle. Seafair spokesperson Emily Cantrell tells WSB the date is Wednesday, August 2nd, and beyond that, no details yet. So if you’re interested, you can at least set your calendar.
P.S. Seafair’s biggest West Seattle event, the Pirates Landing, is at Alki on July 8th, one week from tomorrow … more on that soon!
John e-mailed a few minutes ago to report a sighting of humpback whales headed south, south of Alki Point. Let us know if you see them!
Thanks to Gary Jones for the photo of the CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier, seen off Alki Point today. Gary says the ship is a “Martha L. Black-class light icebreaker and tender from the Canadian Coast Guard, named after a former Canadian Prime Minister.” We haven’t yet found what it’s doing here, but it’s homeported in Victoria, B.C., so it’s not too far away from home.