And so, it begins! After a blustery arrival in Seattle, our first day northbound to Sitka treated us to a crisp, bluebird day of sailing through the San Juan Islands. Early morning birding delivered us a plethora of rhinoceros auklets, pigeon guillemots, and bald eagles as we sailed into Friday Harbor, the ‘quiet capitol’ of San Juan proper. There we explored the famed and wonderful whale museum as an introduction to the charismatic megafauna that awaits us on our journey through these remarkably productive waters. But before there’s an orca, there are its planktonic puzzle pieces, witnessed through the undersea team’s temporary dockside jellyfish exhibition!

In the afternoon, some of us tucked into Jones Island for hikes through this Mediterranean of the Pacific Northwest in the rain shadow of the Olympics. Others kayaked around the small harbor or Zodiac cruised around Jones and nearby Yellow Island as the dive team went looking for Seasquatches (yeti crabs) along one of the steep current-swept walls of this magical archipelago.

A glorious sunset greeted us after a second delicious dinner, and we slowly made our way to Canada and the gardens of Victoria. No time for further Quest-ions—onward!