Earth Day’s reward was not miles rowed. Rick and Adam were rowing when thirty foot plumes of steam appeared from the sea with an industrial hiss. Huge coal-colored bodies rolled softly past us–five to eight humpbacks. The water was smooth and glassy. We quit rowing and watched off and on for the better part of an hour in silence,save the breath of the whales.
Rowing was slow until early morning, and even then it felt slow in spite of the miles travelled. The north wind had kicked up and was taking us on surf waves quickly south.
The previous evening, we made great time through the night, three to four knots, and seemed to be screaming down the coast. I was optimistic that we would be at the Brooks peninsula in the morning. No dice. On Sunday, Greg and I woke up from our shift to the word that we were making a half knot, and even that was not necessarily in the right direction. The clouds were low with fog on the horizon. It was not raining but we were soon wet and rowing in the cold. Visions of making it well past the peninsula by this evening were checked and we settled into a slog.
After a call to Dr. David Burch of Starpath Corporation in Ballard to assess the current, we settled with a south by south west course to get down past the peninsula from its farthest most point the Pacific hits it and starts a current north and south. We were fighting the northern current which nearly prevented any forward motion.
It was not an unpleasant day in spite of the dreary clouds. A large, sleek brown bird with a huge wing span and large trunk flew around us with little effort, gliding up and down just inches below the calm swells. It took us ten hours to make ten miles. Today, the miles rowed was not our reward… rather sharing Earth Day with humpbacks.