[Tweeters] Lost, with Porpoise

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sat Nov 1 21:17:27 PDT 2014

After reporting about my latest Harbor Porpoise sighting, in Port Townsend on 10/29, I got to remembering about a past sighting. My first, actually.
This was around the end of the 20th century, when my wife and I went on what could have been "an ill-fated cruise", with a friend. Our friend (the one with the boat) took us on a cruise from Everett, up to Nanaimo and a bit beyond, and back.
It wasn't until several days into this fair weather deal, that we realized that our "captain" didn't have a compass on his boat. GPS? Nope. He did have some charts though - the laminated ones about the size of place mats. That's because they were place mats.The kind that have, in really fine print, the note, "not suitable for navigation".
Well, you can get away with a lot during the day, if the day is clear anyway. We were still alive, a week into it, despite some real dumbo moves in shallow waters by our "captain" (!) in B.C.
So, anyway, on our last leg of the journey, from Sidney Spit in B.C. back into the USA, we hit a fog bank. Visibility nada. Uh oh. Lacking compass or chart, we were screwed. So we sat there in the fog, waiting. For quite a while. At least it was calm.
But then... some huffing and puffing came out of the fog, and we found our boat surrounded by Harbor Porpoise! Cool! None of us had ever seen one before (I researched later). Harbor Porpoise are cute! The smallest of the Salish Sea's cetaceans, most of "ours" (I, for one, instantly felt adopted) were barely 5ft long. A half dozen or more closely surrounded our small boat, in the glassy water, in the fog.
People my age might remember them old Tee Vee shows like "Rin Tin Tin", or "Lassie"- featuring really smart and good dogs that were able to lead the "good guys" to the trapped miners, or what have you. But, hey, how about "Flipper", that smart bottle-nose dolphin also on Tee Vee. Flipper saved the day a bunch of times (like once a week) :for all we know Flipper might have been smarter than the cast and crew of that show.I guess it depends on what one considers "smart". Anyhoo, back on by our boat, the little Porpoise were a comfort, and probably the only sentient beings on site that a clue where the heck they were. Soon the fog lifted - revealing us to be floating just beneath the Turn Pt. Lighthouse, on Stuart Island, USA. We were good to go - helped by porpoise, for sure.
We made it home OK, and soon after gave our "captain" a boat compass for his birthday.
Jeff Gibsonin Port Townsend Wa

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