West Seattle, Washington
Around 5 am, we got texts from a few people in southwesternmost West Seattle and beyond – The Arroyos and Shorewood – wondering about what appeared to be a helicopter search/rescue operation involving the U.S. Coast Guard. We couldn’t find out anything at the time, and later tried reaching the USCG by phone with no success, but now this USCG news release is just in, distributed by the King County Sheriff’s Office:
Coast Guard air and boat crews rescued one woman and recovered one man after their 15-foot paddleboat was reportedly beset by weather near Three Tree Point in Burien, Wash., Sunday morning.
An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Port Angeles and a Station Seattle rescue boat crew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium responded to the incident and transferred both mariners to local Emergency Medical Service personnel.
Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound watchstanders received initial notification from King County Dispatch at 2:53 a.m., reporting two individuals aboard a paddleboat potentially beset by weather. Sector personnel established communication with the mariners via cell phone and reported hearing a loud scream before losing connection.
Once on scene, the Coast Guard aircrew discovered the capsized vessel near Seahurst Park.
At 4:51 a.m., the aircrew located an unresponsive female in the water and vectored in the boat crew to rescue her. The crew transported her to the Fauntleroy Ferry dock where a local EMS crew was waiting.
At 5:02 a.m., a male was recovered by the helicopter crew and transported to Boeing airfield where he was pronounced dead by a local EMS crew at 5:38 a.m.
The female is reportedly in critical condition and is being treated at Harborview Medical Center hospital.
KCSO is investigating. Sgt. Cindi West says the man who died was from Burien, the woman from Vashon Island.
Thanks to Gary Jones for the photo from Alki Point as the Bremerton-based aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) headed out, northbound in Puget Sound, late today. According to this post on the Stennis’s website, the vessel and its sailors are headed out for “routine training … scheduled to conduct flight operations, damage control and firefighting training, seamanship training, medical training, and exercises designed to maintain technical and tactical proficiency in a variety of warfare areas.”
12:41 PM: Thanks for the tip – a couple of Orca Network commenters are reported orcas seen off West Point, across Elliott Bay, described as “drifting southward” as of about 20 minutes ago. So this is early heads-up that they *might* be visible here before long. We’ll be heading out with our binoculars to look.
1:31 PM: We looked too soon. Just got a call from Jeff Hogan of Killer Whale Tales that they turned into Elliott Bay and at least half a dozen have just passed Seacrest and are “headed [northeast] toward the Space Needle.”
2 PM They have changed direction and are headed back west toward the mouth of the bay. We have also heard from Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail, who is watching from Luna/Anchor Park, while Jeff is with a group at Don Armeni Boat Ramp.
3:36 PM: They turned north within the past hour, Dan on Alki tells us. We ourselves caught one glimpse as they headed back out of the bay – and then lost sight.
4:00 PM: Photos added – thanks to everyone who sent them! These were transient orcas, not residents, were told – one major difference is diet; transients eat mammals, too, which means the sea lions we saw in the vicinity were being extra brave and/or foolhardy!
12:21 PM: Thanks to Mark for the photo from Upper Fauntleroy – the sailboats are part of the Three Tree Yacht Club‘s Duwamish Head Race, which started this morning in Des Moines.
Speaking about points south – Kersti Muul has been keeping us updated on resident orcas (K Pod) seen south of here, heading this way. Orca Network commenters have seen them off north Vashon as of a few minutes ago, still northbound, so if you’re interested in whale watching, you might grab binoculars soon and head to the west-facing West Seattle shore. It’s murky out there but on the other hand, the whales stand out even more against silver water.
By the way, there’s also word a whale was seen in the area a few hours ago – swimmer Melissa was out and said her group thought it might have been a humpback – if you saw that one, let us know!
12:55 PM ORCA UPDATE: Kersti says they are moving fast, now north of Vashon.
1:04 PM: We can see them from north end of Emma Schmitz Overlook, with binoculars.
1:16 PM: Lost track of them and we’re moving on. Some of the racing yachts are still out there, and the weather has cleared somewhat, so it’s a nice view anyway if you want to try your luck.
2:57 PM: Orca Network commenters say the whales are north of West Seattle now – so our viewing time is probably over. Thanks also to Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail for calling earlier to be sure we’d heard.
And thanks to those who’ve sent more photos of the sailboats – we’re adding a few more above. Some of them must have had a great view of the whales!
5:50 PM: Thanks to Kersti for posting orca photos in comments – and to Monica Zaborac for e-mailing some, including this one showing the research boat you might have noticed today:
Researcher Mark Sears talked at last month’s Whale Trail gathering about what they do while out with the orcas.
That photo from Washington State Ferries shows WSF boss Amy Scarton christening the newest state ferry, M/V Suquamish, this afternoon at Vigor Industrial on Harbor Island. It’s the fourth Olympic Class ferry, and scheduled to go into service later this year. Before that, you’ll see it out on sea trials starting in a few months. The plan for starters is for it to be on the Mukilteo/Clinton run in the summer and be on maintenance relief for other vessels at other times of the year. The ferry’s name is explained in the announcement: “The Washington State Transportation Commission selected the vessel name in 2016 to honor the Suquamish people, a tribe that has inhabited the central Puget Sound for approximately 10,000 years.”
11:29 AM: If you grab binoculars and head for Constellation Park [map], you just might find Kersti Muul and Jeff Hogan there watching orcas. Kersti has texted us that whales are visible off the north tip of Blake Island, currently “milling,” though they had been observed northbound earlier.
11:47 AM: Jeff confirms that they’re visible from here, between Blake and Bainbridge islands currently.
10:25 AM: Thanks to Alisa and Kersti for the tip – if you look westward across the Sound, you might see orcas. Orca Network had a report of northbound whales headed toward Blake Island, along the west side of Vashon, as of an hour ago. We are at Constellation Park but without binocs. Let us know if you see orcas!
11:15 AM: Update – they were most recently seen passing Restoration Point on Bainbridge Island [map], which means they might be in view looking north from the west end of Alki.
3:25 PM: With less than an hour until nightfall, we don’t know how good the viewing will be, but we’re sharing the news that orcas are headed southbound in our direction, last seen off Bainbridge Island. Kersti Muul sent the tip that they’d been seen from the Shilshole vicinity, and we just checked Orca Network, where a tipster saw them off mid-Bainbridge [map] – closer to that side than this one, so if you go looking, take good binoculars!
4:22 PM: As it gets dark, one Orca Network commenter reports one male orca is visible from Constellation Park (just south of Alki Point), still southbound. Maybe we’ll see whales northbound in the morning! Let us know any time you see one (or more) off West Seattle – text or voice 206-293-6302 – thank you!
The video is from “Diver Laura” James, who continues to experiment with 360-degree video equipment, and shared that clip from one of her most-recent experiments. It was recorded in the Cove 2 area off north/northeast West Seattle.
P.S. If you haven’t viewed 360-degree video before – just “grab” it in the player window while it’s playing, and pull it around to look above, below, behind, around!
UPDATED MONDAY EVENING: If you have trouble with the clip as embedded above, try this version.
9:25 AM: Last night people watched southbound resident orcas through sunset … now we are getting reports they are headed this way northbound, likely in view from Fauntleroy “soon.”
9:31 AM: At least one is already reported in view from Emma Schmitz Overlook.
10:08 AM: Thanks to commenters for updates, most recently Peter, who sees “About 6-8 orca heading northbound, mid-channel and spread out, between Blake Island marina and West Seattle.”
2:57 PM: Texters tipped us to Southern Resident Killer Whales heading this way, southbound – Orca Network‘s last report was that some of them were seen as close as West Point on the north side of the entrance to Elliott Bay, so we’re awaiting word of whether they’re visible from this area, and headed downhill with binoculars just in case. Let us know if you see them!
3:46 PM: ON has them off, and much closer to, Bainbridge. We are looking from Constellation Park & not seeing them. (4 mins later … just spotted two along S. Bainbridge!)
4:03 PM: Still visible SB, from Constellation, as they approach north Blake Is. Among those here is Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail – her group’s winter gathering for orca updates is tomorrow night (see our calendar).
4:17 PM: We have to head back to HQ but as of a few minutes ago there were a few still in view off Blake, still southbound.
6:57 PM: While we were glad to be able to see the whales, we were there only with binoculars, not a camera (our photographer was busy elsewhere), so we are appreciative to receive two photos we’ve just added above.
Thanks to the reader who sent that photo and asked what the crane is doing at Washington State Ferries‘ Fauntleroy dock. We asked WSF, and spokesperson Ian Sterling replied that it’s there for “routine annual maintenance work that we’re doing at a bunch of terminals and it just happens to be Fauntleroy’s turn.” He says the crane is expected to be at Fauntleroy for about a week and a half and its work is not expected to affect dock operations. The WSF website describes the work as “Landing Aid Repairs, Steel Pile in trestle, Hanger Bar Replacement.”
After six months away, the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) arrives home in Bremerton today, and the grouping of Navy vessels rounding south Bainbridge Island and entering Rich Passage, as shown on MarineTraffic.com, indicates it should be visible from here.
5:17 PM: After a late-afternoon stop in South Park, the Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship sailed into West Seattle waters by Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor) for the first of tonight’s three West Seattle stops.
Emerald City Voices on board. pic.twitter.com/JdDpBsPGL1
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 10, 2017
In our short video clip, you hear Emerald City Voices, serenading those on board and ashore. (added) More photos from this stop – first, spectators viewing through the Luna Girls on Alki sculptures:
The Christmas Ship headed downtown to change passengers and singers before its second voyage of the night brings it back to West Seattle – The Dickens Carolers will be on board for the 8:10 pm visit to Lowman Beach Park and the 8:55 pm stop by the Alki Bathhouse.
9:46 PM: We made it to Alki for the final visit of the night – a chattier crowd ashore, and you can even hear the water:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 10, 2017
(Added) More photos – first, thanks to volunteers and Seattle Parks, treats inside the Bathhouse:
A beach bonfire:
The enduring wish on the stern of the Christmas Ship:
And thanks to Molly Al-Jawad for this photo of the brightest of the 9 boats that accompanied the Christmas Ship to Alki:
Meantime, the Christmas Ship will be back in West Seattle for an encore next Thursday – 9:10 pm at Don Armeni, with The Dickens Carolers.
That’s HMCS Yellowknife, one of two Royal Canadian Navy coastal-defense vessels that you’ll see at West Seattle’s Terminal 5 through the weekend, according to Peter McGraw of the Port of Seattle:
Flexi Floats will be installed today, after which the vessels will be rafted alongside one-another, in the northern half of the wharf, just north of the geared ship OCEAN JAZZ, LOA 530′, and south of the Crowley barge DBL 289, which is 289 feet long.
South of the OCEAN JAZZ is the Foss barge SEATTLE with LOA 300′. The barges are awaiting their next dispatch and will not load or discharge cargo.
Both of the Canadian vessels are passing south Whidbey Island right now, according to MarineTraffic.com. Speaking of military vessels – water-watchers can expect to see the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) passing West Seattle southbound on Sunday morning, headed back to Bremerton post-deployment.
We’ve reveled in whale-watching opportunities as the Southern Resident Killer Whales visited multiple times the past few weeks … but concern is rising, along with the joy. What’s the current reality of their situation? Next Tuesday, 6 pm at C & P Coffee Company (5612 California SW; WSB sponsor), is your chance to find out, courtesy of The Whale Trail:
There are just 76 individuals in the Southern Resident Killer Whale population – a near-historical low. What can we do to prevent these beloved and iconic pods from going extinct? Join us to hear the latest about J, K and L pods, and learn what you can do to help.
At the Whale Trail Winter Gathering, local photographers and researchers will share stories and photos of orcas and other marine mammals who share our waters. Hear about recent encounters with southern resident orcas, and other sightings near West Seattle this year.
We’ll also have signed copies of Erich Hoyt’s latest book The Encyclopedia of Whale, Dolphins, and Porpoises for sale, and other goodies!
Bring your questions, concerns, ideas, stories and poems. Together, we’ll find light in the dark for the whales.
Buy tickets now to reserve your seat. (Kids under 12 are free.) Look forward to seeing you there!
About The Whale Trail
The Whale Trail is a series of sites around the region where the public may view orcas and other marine mammals from shore. Our mission is to inspire appreciation and stewardship of whales and our marine environment. Our overarching goal is to ensure the southern resident orcas recover from the threat of extinction.
Through our current sites and signs, including two on every Washington State ferry, we reach more than 50 million people each year. The Whale Trail is currently adding new sites along the west coast, from California to British Columbia, throughout the southern resident orcas’ range and beyond.
C & P is at 5612 California SW.
10:28 AM: Thanks to the texter who reports Orca Network commenters have just seen orcas headed northbound past Point Robinson on Maury Island, across the Sound from Des Moines, so if they keep heading this way, they could be within view from West Seattle before too long. If they’re the same ones seen southbound yesterday, they’re Southern Resident Killer Whales.
11 AM: Orca Network commenter reports them near Three Tree Point as of about 10 minutes ago, still northbound.
11:32 AM: Texter says they’re seeing whale spouts from the Fauntleroy ferry dock vicinity.
12:48 PM: In view from Lowman, Kersti says in comments!
2:01 PM: Gary comments that at least two are in view just south of Alki Point, still northbound.
4:05 PM: Judging by Orca Network discussion, they’ve passed West Seattle now, still heading north.
(WSB 2015 photo: Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship off West Seattle)
As you might already have seen in the WSB West Seattle Holiday Guide, this Saturday brings the season’s first three West Seattle stops for the Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship, after a stop in South Park. At each shop, singers on board serenade not only their shipmates but also, via amplification, those gathered on the shore. Here’s the schedule:
-3:30-3:50 pm at Duwamish Waterway Park (7900 10th Ave. S.) in South Park
-4:35 to 4:55 pm at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor)
-8:10-8:30 pm at Lowman Beach Park (7017 Beach Dr. SW)
-8:55-9:15 pm at Alki Beach Park (60th SW/Alki SW)
Two notes from the shore for Saturday night – as previewed last month, you are invited to “Seasonal Sounds on the Sound,” a privately hosted Christmas Ship-viewing party to raise money for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. 3-6:30 pm. Details are in our calendar listing.
And during the Alki stop, you’ll find this:
Calling West Seattle families, friends, and neighbors to gather at the Alki Bathhouse for the Argosy Christmas Ship’s annual visit. Enjoy special performances by the Seattle Lutheran High School band and Hope Kid Choir, and join in Christmas caroling accompanied by a live band. Alki Community Center and Seattle Parks Department staff will be on hand to offer hot drinks and cookies. The fun starts and ends with choirs and caroling, and the Christmas Ship will grace our shore from 8:55-9:10 pm. Dress warmly and join us in this special opportunity to share Christmas through song!
Again, all of the above is set for this Saturday night (December 9th – forecast looks pretty good). Then on the following Thursday, December 14th, one more visit – the Christmas Ship will stop off Don Armeni Boat Ramp (1222 Harbor SW) 9:10-9:30 pm with the Dickens Carolers on board.
Thanks to Gary Jones for this afternoon’s view from Alki Point of the U.S. Coast Guard heavy icebreaker Polar Star, which is based on the downtown waterfront but, with tugs, is currently headed toward Manchester, according to MarineTraffic.com. The Polar Star is in its 45th year of service and is supposed to go out of service next decade, though it may not have a successor, and, per reports like this, badly needs one.
2:54 PM: You’ll want an umbrella as well as binoculars if you go look for them, but we’re told by both Kersti Muul and Jeff Hogan that orcas are headed southbound past Constellation Park right now, so they should be visible for a while off West Seattle.
3:16 PM: Jeff’s moving to Emma Schmitz Overlook [map] as the orcas continue heading south.
4:17 PM: See comments for updates – they’re still in view!
10:12 AM: Jeff Hogan of Killer Whale Tales just called to report orcas visible southbound off Me-Kwa-Mooks [map], shortly after a texter told us that Orca Network reported orca sightings in the past hour off Bainbridge Island. We’re grabbing the binoculars to head down for a look.
10:45 AM: Some are visible off Blake, some further north and south. We are with Jeff and other watchers toward the south end of Emma Schmitz Overlook. Whitecaps on the Sound are making viewing a bit challenging.
11 AM: Jeff and Kersti Muul are still watching from the south end of Emma Schmitz – the whales are close to the other side of the Sound. We have to move on.
12:13 PM: Kersti reports in a comment that they’re still southbound, south of the Fauntleroy ferry lane now.
1:16 PM: An update from Jeff – before 1 pm, the whales were visible from Dilworth on Vashon [map], then turned northbound: “Probably K pod.”
2:09 PM: Still northbound, according to a texter who also says the whales have been confirmed as K-Pod, and according to Claire’s comment below.
3:09 PM: Brittany says via Twitter that they’re visible from Constellation Park with binoculars.
Thanks to Jim Borrow for the photo – the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), seen from West Seattle a little over an hour ago as it headed back to Bremerton after 13 days away. According to the Stennis website, it was out for “routine training for future operations” including “damage control and firefighting training, seamanship training, small boat operations, medical training, and exercises designed to maintain technical and tactical proficiency in a variety of warfare areas.”