Building the platform
Each day start like this. With coffee in one hand, preparations begin for your hourly 20minute scan of the ocean for whale sightings. You will be using ‘big eye’ binoculars which are half a meter in height, a foot in width and what seems to be a tonne in weight (please forgive this simple Aussie travelers attempts at navigating complicated systems of measurement!). In addition to smaller (but still fancy) binoculars, you will scan from left to right taking note of any whale or boat activity you come across.What a pleasure it is to have reason to stare at the sea like this. Seals, sea lions, otters, porpoises and eagles come in and out of view.
The Fin Island Whale Research Station is a 16 x20 wooden cabin positioned upon a rocky outcrop mere 20m from the shifting shore line manned by Janie Wray. A humpback whale researcher with over 17 years of experience. It is her resourcefulness, enthusiasm and vision brings this place into being. Along with her snowy golden retriever ‘Cohen’ she provides opportunity for few lucky interns to settle in this ocean cabin to learn and observe the life and ways of the gentle giants at her foot steps. Her kindness and gentle laugh will permeate memories of our time her for years to come.
We eagerly discuss plans for the month ahead. The kitchen/bunkbed cabin is accommodating but not accommodating enough to house the 3 of us and an additional 2 guests expected to arrive in 5 days time. So we are tasked with the childhood dream of building our own tent dwelling among the pines in the ‘bush out back Like all sunny dreams, this project was imagined to be easy, weightless. Bits of plywood and cedar would lift and happily join themselves together to form a robust platform that would easily fit our tent with space to spare. Our chosen spot was perfect, warm and up on high, we would have no problems carrying and resting this platform along an the spine of an old cedar (which fittingly resembled the vertebrae of a great whale, complete with stick/branch ribs- so Pinterest worthy). The day was warm and we were filled with child-like optimism. Until we started
The tent did not fit the plywood available, even if we joined three large bits (we had to construct the tent to confirm this). So we would make do with four main contact points. There wasn’t enough wood to make the legs for the base. So we would need to carry heavy cedar logs to our chosen spot. Once we hacked and cleared the area we discovered the ground was not at all level. Having a hodge podge assortment of stumps was not enough infrastructure to support our weight 50cm off the ground. As all good couples do, we soon got into a heated debate about where and how the wood should be joined. Reality was setting in.
Disgruntled by the lack of progress we decided to call it quits early in the afternoon on the second day to avoid hemorrhaging from yet another bout of ‘who-was-more-right.’ Later that day Janie would introduce us to a promising new ‘flat spot.Hoping for the best we were delighted to find that this new clearing looked like it might just do. With access to the ‘Alice-in-wonderland-worm-hole-come-path-way to the cabin AND access to rocks overlooking the ocean only a short 5meters away, the space was looking good. In addition it was relatively flat and no trees/large plants obscuring overhead. Great.