First we got a note from Amanda asking which aircraft carrier is passing West Seattle right now; while we tried to find out, without even asking the question publicly, we received the photo above from Thom, who identified it as CVN-76, the carrier USS Ronald Reagan. We last featured it here in January 2012 as it arrived for what was described at the time as a year of maintenance.
ADDED 4:57 PM: Amanda also shared a photo. We haven’t figured out yet what the Ronald Reagan is heading out for – but we did find a bit of information saying the USS John C Stennis is due back in Bremerton later this month, so we’ll be watching for that sighting off Alki and Beach Drive.
(Saturday photo by Nick Adams for WSB)
By Katie Meyer
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
As we’ve covered the Beach Drive boat-woes saga, the now-wrecked trimaran’s background has started to emerge, particularly once commenters discussed having seen it advertised online for free.
Finally finding that expired ad led us to the man who built the trimaran that is now in pieces south of the Harbor West Condos. He had not heard about the fate of the Nunga Nunga Nue until we contacted him today.
Bob Sinclair is 85, a mainframe programmer who retired from Boeing in 1992, and who originally built the trimaran himself decades ago: “Originally, I had dreams of building something large enough that I could go anywhere in the world if I wanted to, and small enough that I could sail it myself.”
(October 2012 photo by Nick Adams for WSB; click image for larger view)
Last month, the first talk in a new series presented by The Whale Trail drew a full house to C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor). The next talk is just five days away – Thursday (February 21) – and tickets are still available, reports TWT’s Donna Sandstrom with this reminder:
It has been almost 8 years since the Southern Resident Killer Whales (J, K and L pods) were listed as endangered. How are they doing? What progress has been made towards their recovery? What can we do to help?
Join us for this informal and informative talk featuring Lynne Barre, NOAA Fisheries. Learn what NOAA and its partners are doing to conserve and protect these iconic and beloved whales, including current research findings, management approaches and population updates.
Lynne is the Branch Chief in the Protected Resources Division at NOAA. She worked on the endangered listing of the Southern Residents, designated critical habitat, and developed and finalized the SRKW Recovery Plan.
As part of the recovery program, Lynne developed an oil-spill-response plan and protective regulations for killer whales in Washington. She works closely with partner organizations, including The Whale Trail, to implement the recovery plan. Lynne also works on the newly listed rockfish species and coordinates with Puget Sound salmon recovery.
This is the second in an “Orca Talk” series, hosted by The Whale Trail at C&P, 5621 California SW. Cost: $5 suggested donation, kids free. Advance tickets available at brownpapertickets.com/event/337516. Buy tickets now – see you there!
Questions – or, interested in volunteering? Here’s how to reach Donna: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.919.5397.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re continuing to update the story – scroll down for the latest)
11:10 AM: Thank you to Michelle for the updates on the case of the trimaran in trouble off Beach Drive; this is the fourth day, but
apparently possibly final, as her newest photo (above) shows that someone is here to tow it assist. Earlier this morning, she had sent a photo showing both the trimaran and its owner’s smaller boat were swamped:
Beach Drive Blog was first to report on the plight of a boat some commenters recognized as having been offered recently for free in a Craigslist ad.
(This photo and next, by Nick Adams for WSB)
12:21 PM UPDATE: Photojournalist Nick Adams is at the scene for WSB and says the Department of Ecology is on site; with the tide out, as his photos show, the boat’s apparently basically wreckage on the beach.
The photo above shows what commenter KMF pointed out – part of the boat has broken away.
12:40 PM UPDATE: Nick reports a salvage company is coming from Lynnwood. The mast is a big worry – neighbor Michelle adds via e-mail that there’s concern it will crash into a unit at Harbor West if not moved away soon.
4:40 PM: Update from Michelle – a crew has arrived on scene. And the rising tide shows another view of the boat’s “blown-out” side:
The next high tide isn’t till after 10 pm. And Michelle tells us the crew just chain-sawed the mast. (P.S. Turns out we have TWO nearby-residing Michelles who have kindly been sharing photos and information. Thanks to both!)
6:28 PM: As the sun sets:
From the neighbor, who says, “The owner is still down moving things, but the crew is gone.”
(UPDATE: Saturday coverage is here)
While it looked like all might be well with the trimaran that’s in its third day of trouble off Beach Drive – it was afloat when Beach Drive Blog added new photos this morning – apparently not. We’ve just heard from Jessica, who happened onto the scene, unaware this has been going on a while (here’s BDB’s first report from Wednesday, and our update from yesterday), and e-mailed the photo above with a request for help on behalf of the boat’s owner. She says, “He needs to get his boat patched and fixed so he can possibly leave with the 8 am high tide!! ANYBODY WHO CAN HELP HIM would be ssssoooo NICE!! He’s stranded next to the apartments that go out on the water. His race is against TIME/ TIDE. He needs help with whatever anyone is able to help him with!!!! … Someone please help him!!” She says he told her the Coast Guard couldn’t help and just referred him to a boat-towing service which charges $1,000 he doesn’t have, and that the battery on his smaller boat is now dead.
Suzanne just e-mailed us about a trimaran that’s been taking on water just off central Beach Drive, barely 15 feet from shore, in the Emma Schmitz Viewpoint vicinity. Our friends at Beach Drive Blog report that the captain says it’s NOT an emergency and was working on repairs.
(January 7 U.S. Coast Guard photo of Kulluk)
The Shell drill rigs Kulluk and Noble Discoverer, which spent months at Vigor Shipyards on Harbor Island in 2011-2012 before their troubled time in Alaska, will not be brought back here after all. So reports The Seattle Times (WSB sponsor), quoting Shell as saying they’ll be taken to Asia instead. It’s been a month since Kulluk was towed from the Kodiak Island shore where it had run aground and taken to a nearby “safe harbor” for evaluation; Noble Discoverer had a variety of mechanical problems and is currently in Seward, but soon to be Korea-bound.
(Example of “sailing” sea lion; photo by Robin Lindsey)
6:26 PM: No, it was NOT related to the search for the Belvidere estate-sale robber – there was a short-lived report of a possible dead whale off Constellation Park. Turned out to be a resting sea lion, per what Robin Lindsey from Seal Sitters told us and others at the scene a little while ago – but not before at least one TV chopper detoured over there to take a look.
P.S. The sea lion was “sailing,” Robin explained – behavior that has previously sparked erroneous reports of a marine mammal in trouble; here’s a 2010 report on Blubberblog that explains sailing, including a photo.
ADDED 8:49 PM: Robin has since provided a photo for us to use – added above – and has also updated the Seal Sitters’ website with an account of what happened tonight, plus the basics on “sailing.”
Two updates from West Seattle-based Seal Sitters this weekend – first:
(Photo by Robin Lindsey)
That’s Ruby, a visitor who had already been through a lot before turning up here, as Robin Lindsey explains:
On Tuesday morning, Seal Sitters’ hotline received an anxious call about a seal pup at the little cove just north of Salty’s. The woman was afraid off-leash dogs would scare the pup back into the water. When we arrived minutes later and taped off a perimeter, we noticed a red tag partially obscured on the pup’s rear flipper. This type of tag indicates an animal that has gone through rehab. The pup, nicknamed Ruby, was a victim of human harassment on a beach in Steilacoom in July. Among other things, Ruby had been poked with sticks over the course of the few days she tried to rest on the beach. Other, more well-intentioned souls poured water over her. The week or so old pup was taken to PAWS for a long rehab and released on McNeil Island on October 2nd.
We are thrilled that Ruby is in our area under the protective watch of our volunteers and the West Seattle community. We feel confident that she will be infinitely safer on our turf. Ruby has been sighted the past three days fishing at Jack Block Park, her red tag visible as she swims in the shallows. We will be posting regular “pupdates” of Ruby sightings on blubberblog.
Should anyone see Ruby (or any other marine mammal onshore), please call our hotline immediately at 206-905-7325 (SEAL).
Robin has already posted about Ruby twice on Seal Sitters’ “Blubberblog” – see both updates here.
Second – you might have heard a regional-media report last night claiming a harbor seal found dead on the beach in Ballard had been “shot” and/or “decapitated.” SS checked it out and Robin says authorities found NO evidence of human involvement in the seal’s death – its state of decomposition was not unusual. She explains in detail, here.
(Click the picture for larger version)
That photo is by Nick Lucey, host and producer of upcoming seasons of “Into the Drink,” currently shown on National Geographic International. The image came our way via “Diver Laura” James, who explains:
The two huge balls of light are a couple of the videographers from the show; they are hoping to have a Northwest episode this season and some of the footage they shot will hopefully be in it… I was taking them on a tour of Seacrest Cove 2. We were visited repeatedly by a beautiful harbor seal and treated at the end of the dive by massive schools of fast moving herring. So if folks were walking along the shoreline last night, and saw the lights in the shallows, that is what was going on!
Heads up for whale fans: The Orca Network‘s Facebook page has various posts/comments today tracking a group of transient orcas last reported to be headed northbound through Colvos Passage on the west side of Vashon Island. So, in case they pass Beach Drive/Alki Point, we’re mentioning it here. Let us know if you see them!
Thanks to Toni T. for sharing the gleaming downtown view from tonight’s sunset. That gives us the opportunity to add three photos received Friday night but put on hold because of semi-breaking news:
That photo and the next one are by Annika Bowden.
And here’s one by John Hinkey (who also contributed the swimmer/boarder view in today’s calendar preview), with a Bremerton ferry rounding southeast Bainbridge Island:
Rain’s on the way back, per the newest forecast.
We’ve found out more about the search that caught attention off Beach Drive last night, involving what looked like a law-enforcement boat searching for something or someone. While Seattle Police told us it wasn’t their boat, it turns out they were involved with the original call earlier in the day – tipster Mike spotted an auto-tweet categorized “water emergencies” in the long ongoing list of SPD “Tweets by Beat” on the WSB Crime Watch page. That gave us an incident number to ask SPD media liaison Det. Mark Jamieson about. He says police got a call around 3:40 pm from someone who described spotting a 10-foot metal rowboat with no one on board. Police decided to look from land. They saw no sign of anyone in distress, and turned the case over to the U.S. Coast Guard for further investigation – that’s whose vessel they say was out searching last night. The Coast Guard public-affairs officer we just called had no record of it, but in the meantime, the folks at Beach Drive Blog – which mentioned the search last night – points out the “rowboat” may have been the one shown on their site five days ago, since the tide’s been high enough to move things around.
First we received that photo from Susan at Alki Beach Dog – saying her daughter Jessica thought those were Dall’s porpoises off Alki Point this afternoon. Turns out, they were actually orcas (which Dall’s porpoises do resemble). In an exchange on Twitter, Russ Walker shared his photos:
(Here’s the rest of his set.) We didn’t get early word of this one because, while they had been spotted off North Seattle earlier in the day, the wind and waves churned things up so much, it was tough to keep track of them as they got closer.
That’s U.S. Coast Guard video from flyovers (nighttime until about :50 in) during the towing of the Shell drilling vessel Kulluk, which is now reported to be anchored in a “safe harbor” 30 miles from where it ran aground on Alaska’s Kodiak Island. As reported previously, Kulluk was being towed back to Seattle – where it spent almost a year at Harbor Island’s Vigor Shipyards, before heading to the Arctic ocean for exploratory drilling – when things went very wrong in bad weather, and it eventually drifted loose and grounded. A “Unified Command” was formed to handle the situation, and early this morning, Kulluk was re-floated and towed about 30 miles. It’s now scheduled to be examined and evaluated, before a decision is made what to do next – possibly a resumption of the trip back here. By the way, the oceangoing tugs participating in the operation right now include one from Crowley on Harbor Island, the Ocean Wave.
Wind from the west-southwest combined with high tide earlier this afternoon to send waves crashing over the seawall, fence, and road along Constellation Park south of Alki Point. We stopped for a photo to go with a reminder that another round of “king tides” is on the way – today’s high tide just before noon was just short of 12 feet, and the afternoon high tide is on the wane, but the morning high tide is on the rise, heading for a peak of 13.1 feet at 7:01 am next Monday (January 14th). You’ll recall that the highest “king tide” a month earlier (WSB 12/17/12 coverage here) combined with a storm surge to make history with the city’s highest high-water level ever – inundating many homes along Beach Drive. Too soon to say for sure, but, while Tuesday night and Wednesday look windy, the peak-tide period days later doesn’t look too bad so far. P.S. You can find the tide chart any time on the WSB Weather page.
It’s part of this year’s Southern Sound Series of races (all listed here, on the same page where results should be linked later).
Watch for more sailboats off west-facing West Seattle three weeks from today – January 26 is the date for the Blake Island Race.
(12/17/12 photo by Nick Adams for WSB)
As reported here last month, the December “king tides” included a day (December 17th) with the highest water level ever recorded in Seattle. Now, another round of “king tides” are on the way in mid-January (see the Seattle tide chart here – the highest high tide is expected January 14th), and the state is hoping you can help document them – read on for the announcement: Click to read the rest of More ‘king tides’ ahead, and the state hopes you’ll share photos…
Lots of unscheduled changes to the Fauntleroy ferry run recently – but one big change tomorrow is planned: It’s the start of the Washington State Ferries winter schedule, systemwide. You can see the schedule as a PDF here, or by using the drop-down on the left side of the WSF home page.
That photo by West Seattle’s Long Bach Nguyen shows Shell’s drillship Kulluk and tow vessel Aiviq as they headed north in Puget Sound on June 27th after Kulluk spent almost a year getting work done at Harbor Island’s Vigor Shipyards. Also leaving that day, Shell drillship Noble Discoverer, after almost three months at Vigor – and now, after a reportedly rocky summer in the Arctic, the vessels are all reported to be headed here again for what’s described as maintenance work – but the journey itself hasn’t been smooth sailing so far, according to multiple news reports. The Aiviq had engine trouble while towing the Kulluk in rough seas, and the Kulluk was almost evacuated today as a result – here’s the latest. Meantime, Noble Discoverer is reported to be under investigation for potential safety and pollution-control problems, but reports including this one say it’s being allowed to head this way for shipyard work. No Seattle ETA announced so far for either drilling vessel, but we will be checking; MarineTraffic.com shows Aiviq still off Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska, while Noble Discoverer is listed as “out of range.”
“We live at Alki Point and spotted a family of Orcas this morning at 8:30 am heading south,” reports Jeff Morgante, sharing these photos (thank you!).
According to comments on the Orca Network‘s Facebook page, two groups of orcas have been sighted off Vashon/Maury Islands in the past few hours – this was likely one of them. As always, if you’re near the water, keep an eye out, since they’ll have to head back north sometime!
ADDED EARLY SUNDAY: Alisa Lemire Brooks recorded this video as one group headed back north in Colvos Passage, between Vashon’s west side and the Kitsap Peninsula:
She shared it via the aforementioned Orca Network page.
11:32 AM: Earlier this morning, Jeff Hogan from Killer Whale Tales texted us about orcas sighted off Maury Island. That was a little too far south for West Seattleites to see, so we didn’t mention it here, but now he says they’re headed back north again – along Colvos Passage, on the west side of Vashon, so they might be visible a bit later off North Vashon or Blake Island. Let us know if you see them!
12:46 PM UPDATE: Commenters on the Orca Network Facebook page have seen them within the last few minutes off Olalla (map) – still a ways before they would emerge back into the open Sound off north Vashon Island.
1:37 PM UPDATE: Orca Network commenters are also talking about a DIFFERENT group heading south from Richmond Beach/Carkeek area – could be a whale of a lot of whales off West Seattle if these groups keep heading their respective ways.
More news in the pipeline – but first, in case you need de-stressing, a beautiful sight from underwater, just off Seacrest, at the popular dive spot Cove 2, courtesy of “Diver Laura” James, who explains: “We have big schools of baitfish all winter in Puget Sound, and it is often very hard to capture the ‘feeling’ of diving with them on film, because they are extremely skittish. This dive was done with a rebreather (so no bubbles), which allowed me to be much less ‘scary’ to the fishes.”
11:14 AM: As if the high tide, high waves, high wind, etc. wasn’t all scenic enough – we just got a text about orcas heading southbound off Alki Point. As always, please let us know if you see them – thanks!
11:33 AM UPDATE: Just got another text – they are described as “north of Alki Bathhouse, in the Bremerton ferry lane,” still headed south.
12:45 PM: Donna from The Whale Trail called – she had them in view off Blake Island (Tillicum Village), but warned they’re tough to see because of the whitecaps.
If you’re in north West Seattle, grab those binoculars – Dan e-mailed to report orcas, sighted “mid-channel, northbound,” seen from North Admiral.
If we get word of orcas off West Seattle, we’ll always give you the heads-up – so you are hereby notified, we just got a text (206-293-6302 around the clock) about sightings “between Alki and Vashon, heading south.” As always, please share a comment (or text, or call) if you see them!
No, there’s no trick with the perspective there – the 34-car Washington State Ferry M/V Hiyu really is small, in comparison to M/V Issaquah (able to carry almost 4 times as many vehicles). As mentioned here in the past few days, Hiyu is making unscheduled runs to supplement Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth’s two-boat schedule. And West Seattle photographer Doug Branch “couldn’t resist photographing it when it showed up:
Thanks to Doug for sharing the Hiyu views! Though it’s not following a schedule, you can monitor the Hiyu while it’s on the run by checking out the live Vessel Watch page.
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