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 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 and powered away.
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 began dives transforming them into fifteen-pound missiles: seven-foot wingspans alerted the men; three hit the deck and one jumped overboard. The two seals swished in and battered the flailing swimmer, sinking him before two of his mates had retrieved their rifles which, at this point, would’ve anyway had to be fired at individual eagles returning to swoop at human heads. Several minutes after the pilot had accelerated to forty full-speed knots, his comrades, though still firing inaccurately at the slashing and snapping eagles, exhausted the attackers into retreat and were thankful to sustain only the loss of one man’s left 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 probably would’ve preferred to return to Everett Harbor but five more seven-eagle squadrons had sealed off that option for any boat lacking an enclosed cabin. Terrified and reckless, the three men sped on and drove straight over the floating marker of a crab pot, which people had long viewed as a crab jail. Recently, the line had been modified by the prisoners to, upon impact, snap up and around propellers: this line grabbed the propeller and almost stopped it but the line broke 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.