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Gray Whales Salute Old Condor’s Departure

The original 90-foot long steel sportfishing boat Condor, aka “the Original,” or “Big Bird,” ran its last two whale watching trips of the season today. 9 am and 12 noon trips left the docks for 2½ hour adventures and it was another fantastic day all the way around. At 2:37pm the Condor’s aluminum high speed offspring, the Condor Express, returned to Santa Barbara Harbor. We bid the original Condor a fond adios and thank the crew for helping us whale watch for the past month or so.

It’s “welcome home” day for the Condor Express which has been in the boat yard undergoing a major overhaul of the engine rooms, painting outside and in, and generally doing everything possible to get ready for another 13 years of consecutive A-1 service. Coast Guard inspections were passed with flying colors as Captain Dave had the Express in tip top shape.

The 9am trip on the Condor ran with glassy seas that had a small wind bump coming down the Channel from winds and swells far to the west. Skies were generally cloudy and areas of virga could be seen in the sky. This trip featured cetaceans both large and small. On the small side, we watched at least 100 individual long-beaked common #dolphins spread over the area. As the boat moved near them, they took turns visiting and riding the bow. The show stopper for the morning adventure was our long and magical encounter with two fabulous northbound gray #whales we found off Hope Ranch.

At noon the bump on the ocean was subsiding and it was even glassier and calmer than our morning trip. We watched at least 8 gray whales with many more spouts all around us. One group was particularly frisky and we witnessed breaching, head-lifts, rolling, spy-hopping upside down and other forms of “socialization.” On this adventure we ran into at least 100 long-beaked common dolphins, but unlike the morning encounter, the afternoon dolphins were all in one nice pod.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry

Condor Express

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