Autumn Storm

The sunrise this morning was a brilliant band of red, silhouetting Mt Baker and foretelling of the blustery day to come. A true autumn storm arrived, with a north wind sustaining 20 – 25 knots (up the tower), most of the day. Air temperature was a little cooler than the sea surface temperature of 11.3oC today. There was also heavy rain and a falling barometer in front of the low. It is at 987.5 now ~ 5PM and it is still looking for the bottom. The forecast is for more of the same.

I keep expecting the whale watching industry to shut down for the season, but no, even today there were half a dozen visits to the Ecological Reserve. Ocean Magic surprised me as she came out from behind the north-west “hill” and flew past my living room window: definitely travelling at more than 7 knots through the Reserve. As yesterday, there were also open boats, with ruddy faces looking out from under hoods and hats. The temperature this afternoon reached a high of 10.5oC but with all that water falling from the sky and wind pushing it around, it didn’t look that comfortable just sitting in an open vessel.

A dozen Northern Elephant Seals have moved in and today they were lined up like hydrodynamic sausages, in front of the boat shed doors. ‘Gat’ (#5850-6967) is right in the middle of the pile and ‘Flake’ sleeps alone behind the boat-shed. There are at least two females and at least five sub-adult males. Sealions did not haul out on Great Race in the usual numbers today perhaps it was more comfortable on Middle Rock. There were still Humpback Whales just south of Rosedale Reef but most of the birds seemed to be hunkered down on the rocks. The Black Turnstones seem almost giddy with all the freshwater and are busy taking baths in the bigger puddles

Collecting the water sample was a bit wild today: first I had to get by the elephant seals and then the whole jetty was awash with the big waves that were rolling in. Quite exciting and successful. It was also a great day for collecting rainwater, looking on the bright side of the dark. This was the first day out here that I just took it easy. I lit a fire and read a book. Starting to think of home and my own hearth as my stay draws to a close. This is my last week at Race Rocks until spring.