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Boat Ride

Mount Baker, shining like a big dish of vanilla ice cream in the sky, beamed instructions to two seals swimming noses just above the surface in Everett Harbor where many boats were docked. As a twenty-five foot, open-cabin craft moved out the seals followed a safe interval behind the propeller and then signaled that four men were motoring slowly in the No Wake zone of the Snohomish River leading into Puget Sound. Gray whales in the region received the alert, and the nearest threesome – a five-ton calf, his forty-ton mother, and an almost-as-hefty male escort believed not to be the father – changed course.

A squadron of seven female bald eagles, the largest and strongest of the species, were flying in V formation when they spotted their target. Yellow hooked beaks poised and talons open, the eagles opened seven-foot wingspans and began dives transforming themselves into fifteen-pound missiles. Three men hit the deck and one jumped overboard. The seals swished in and battered the flailing swimmer, sinking him while eagles lashed at human heads. The skipper accelerated to forty full-speed knots and his two comrades scrambled for rifles fired errantly at returning attackers who after several minutes tired and had to retreat, bearing but a single human ear. All along, the roaring propeller had been whipping up waves that generated larger ones becoming walls of water that pounded into the harbor and damaged several dockside boats.

The men would’ve preferred to return to Everett Harbor but three more seven-eagle squadrons sealed off that option. Terrified and reckless, the men sped on and drove straight over the floating marker of a crab pot. Inmates until recently, the crabs had modified the lines, and this one snapped up and around the propeller and almost stopped it before breaking, and the boat sputtered on at quarter speed.

Three whales, measuring a wounded target, steamed in. The mother and her male friend broadsided the boat, bulldozing it onto its side. The precocious calf then rammed the hull. Two men must have promptly drowned unless, like Jonah, they were swallowed. The third man was a competent swimmer and alternately used freestyle and breast strokes to struggle about a mile into the harbor at Hat Island. He pulled himself onto a rocky beach where fish-fueled fumes of seal shit knocked him cold and rabbits rushed down from the hills and peed all over him.

This entry was posted in Birds, Boats, George Thomas Clark, Islands, Seals, Seattle, Whales.