Using the Pacific Northwest as the dynamic environment that carries the film from beginning to end, Bryan Smith takes us up close with the core elements of sea kayaking. Blending wildlife, people, and places, Pacific Horizons motivates all sea kayakers to get out and go kayaking. The film features segments on Dubside, Quadra Island Tidal Races, Skookumchuck Narrows, Keirron Tastagh and Jeff Norville's 14 day Circumnavigation of Vancouver Island, San Juan Islands, The Oregon Coast, Columbia River Gorge, Remote West Coast Vancouver Island Locations, Queen Charlotte Islands, and much more.

The Official Trailer for Pacific Horizons!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Paddling with the Orca Whales

After we finished up the week of tidal race paddling, Lise-Anne and I headed straight for the San Juan Islands. It was a two-folded mission. First and most importantly we went to Orcas Island for Matt and Djuna'a wedding. So great to see these two spirits united and living such an amazing life on Orcas. They are now part of the team at Body Boat Blade and will be featured in the Bunsby Island segment of the film.

The second part of the mission was taking the inter-island ferry over to San Juan Island to paddle the west side in hopes of seeing some killer whales. We met up with our friends Pat and Dan from Mt. Vernon and Chris and Hillary from Bellingham. After a relaxing morning we put on the water, paddled out of Smallpox Bay and instantly encountered J-Pod heading North. The timing was incredible. We literally took 30 or 40 paddle strokes and we were seeing dorsal fins coming right at us.

Chris, Hillary, and me scanning the horizon line

photo by Dan Moose

J-Pod consists of about 24 whales and is the most commonly seen pod of whales in the San Juan Islands. The Center for Whale Research run by Ken Balcomb and his son Kelly Balcomb-Bartok has been studying these whales through photo identification for over 25 years.

One of the J-pod adult females just off the bow!

photo by Dan Moose

Filming the whales.

photo by Dan Moose

After a night in the rain, the weather cleared up fro an amazing paddle on Sunday. I got a chance to catch up with Kelly Balcomb-Bartok at Center for Whale Research for an interview and then we hit the water. The whales were rumored to be South at Eagle Point so we paddled South. No sightings, but we had a spectacular day on the water.

Lise-Anne and I paddling a double. Filming from the front of the double has provided some great angles for the film.

photo by Dan Moose

The team!

photo by Dan Moose

This is going to be a great segment in the film with a bunch of kayaking but also a lot of history and information on the killer whales. San Juan Island has become such a popular destination to come paddle with the whales, but there is a lot to know about these amazing mammals and their fragile state.

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