INT - #2 SEATOWN ROAD - UPPER BEDROOM - EARLY EARLY EARLY MORNING
It is incredibly early in the morning, although being northern Scotland, the sun has been shining for hours. Three men are asleep in the beds, in sleeping bags. The atmosphere is heavy given the extreme lack of sleep of the three men which isn't helped by them having gone to sleep only a few hours before.
The door opens below. There is the sound of footsteps coming up the scary steps with the slippery carpet. The bedroom door opens.
It is 5:30, the weather looks fine, let's get ready to go.
Silence. Long silence. Even more silence. Eventually there is a small amount of moment as the men slowly start moving and getting up.
Early morning in Gardenstown.
So yeah, as threatened, the weather was fine in the morning and wake up was at 5:30 am. But our crew gets Orca II today, which is moored in Gardenstown. So there is no packing up the trailer and we can wait until the other crew gets their stuff assembled and then start suiting up. We are on the water by 7. Besides the extreme tiredness, it is really great out here. The seas are glassy, the sun is at a low angle and everything shines and sparkles. Sadly, Soo isn't with us for our final voyage. She didn't sleep very well and just couldn't make it up.
On the water early.
We head east and start our survey. We see a few porpoise pretty quickly. We note them down in the log and keep moving. I take over driving for a bit and play with keeping the nose down, listening to the engine and when it makes the right sound, and occasionally push the throttle the wrong way and we lurch a bit. Sorry about that. And you just want to move it a tiny bit but it feels all sticky and is hard to move just a tiny bit. Not much more to see right now.
Break in Rosehearty.
By the time we get to Rosehearty, a toilet break is called for. Pine takes the boat in and we tie up at the end of the harbor. It has a tiny opening and is surrounded by thick seaweed. And the ladder up is mighty spooky. There is no bottom step so you have to step on the bit of the wall that flares out and the first step is broken and crooked and covered in slippery algae. We make it up top without incident though and make the long hike into town and find the toilets. The harbor is a bit smelly too, more so than others. Lots of rotting seaweed and fish.
Back on the boat, we finish our route to Fraserburgh and close out our survey. It has been a nice morning out so far, but it would be nice to see something and make getting up this early worthwhile. By about 9 am, we sit out at the edge of Fraserburgh Bay and the Sovereign shipwreck and get out some food and snack. Having been up for absolutely hours, it feels like lunch but I must pace myself and not eat it all right now. So, I eat one sandwich. We sit and float and watch the seals and try to get them to talk. But no pointing at them. Apparently that spooks them and they won't come out. A few swim over a little bit and one is on the other side of the boat, but none of them come all that close.
Seals off Fraserburgh Bay and the Sovereign shipwreck
Ok, last picture of barely visible seal heads.
Heading towards bird rafts.
Feeling refreshed, we head out to deeper water to start our survey route back to the west. There are a few promising bird rafts around and we move around to check those out. We sight something pretty quickly. It was probably Duncan, he didn't miss a thing. Minke, hurray. It looks to be an adolescent. Wait, there is another one over there. Wow, cool. We keep seeing more and more in all different directions. It is hard to say for sure how many there were, either 4 or 5, since they are only on the surface for a few seconds and they move fast and far between breaths. They are all hungry whales and are feeding. All of us take different directions and keep calling out sightings, blow at 3 o'clock. Feeding strike. We go on and on. Although it is hard to keep track of which ones are diving, so we can't really time the dives, and even hard to decide which way to go since they are in all different directions and moving. For most of it, we just switch the engine off and drift until they get too far away and we move to follow the closest one.
Aftermath of a feeding strike.
Then a bunch of porpoise show up. And the gannets are diving and going nuts. And and what do we watch now, there are too many things going on. And puffins, damn they are cute. This goes on for about two hours until we have seen enough. We can't get dive timings and we can't really add to the count. We followed them for a little distance and we take location readings for that, but there isn't much else to do. We hear from the other group, they haven't seen anything yet and they are green with envy.