Say YES!!

Papa Orca and Anacapa Island

Have you ever hesitated when someone asked you on an adventure? Thought to yourself, "that sounds great but (insert lame excuse here)" and then turned down the opportunity? One of the mantras of Wayfare Collective is "Say Yes!!" because, in the end, you usually end up with a win. A trip I took not too long ago is one of many examples of successfully defeating the "yeah but" within and getting handsomely rewarded with what may be the most epic experiences an ocean lover like me may have. (To give you fair warning, this post contains some images of animals on the hunt. If you are a tender heart that cries when kittens get stuck in trees, you may not love what you're about to read/see.)

Before I started Wayfare Collective I was in the process of opening a sustainable seafood restaurant in my hometown of Santa Barbara, California. Without getting into too much boring detail, I decided this endeavor was missing the mark in terms of what I wanted to do professionally and how I wanted my personal life to look. So, after about a year of hard work, I threw in the towel. It was a hard decision that left me thinking, “what next?” The day after making this decision a friend called, asking if I wanted to go on a sailboat trip out to the Channel Islands. I thought to myself, “well, that would be fun, but I should really stay home, brainstorm my next steps, do laundry, and get my life back on track.” On a run the next day I had an amazing, unplanned brainstorming session on what those next steps might be and realized that a trip out to the islands was exactly what I needed. (I know what you’re thinking—what took a whole day?!)

On our way out to the islands we had the most incredible encounter with nature. We were in between Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands when my friend Kristine said, “I think those are orca fins!” Seeing orcas (aka “killer whales” or “blackfish”) at the Channel Islands is something that has been on my bucket list for some time, so I basically freaked out and scrambled to find my camera. 

Anacapa Island on the left, Santa Cruz Island on the right. Photo Credit: Andrew Raaf

Anacapa Island on the left, Santa Cruz Island on the right. Photo Credit: Andrew Raaf

These whales were moving fast and, in what seemed like seconds, they were basically on top of us. Our awesome captain, Kristian, was doing everything he could to give them some space but they were pretty oblivious we were even there and weren’t helping him out much. We quickly realized that not only were there orcas but two grey whales as well.

It didn’t take Kristine and I more than a moment to realize exactly what we were witnessing... While some orcas feed primarily on a fish, these were clearly transients, who prefer marine mammals. They are known to attack grey whale calves, which is what we were seeing just feet from our boat. 

The orcas attempted to drown the calf by rolling over on top of it while the mama did her best to keep its blow hole at the surface. We watched in both amazement and sadness; while this was one of the most incredible things to see, it was also a bit hard to watch.

As the whales moved away from our boat we continued on our journey, unsure who would win that battle. In this moment I thought about the fact that I almost missed this incredible moment, perhaps the most amazing moment of my life, to do laundry. The rest of the trip continued to exceed all of our expectations. We surfed, played on paddle boards, snorkeled, scuba dove, and explored the island. We saw endangered black abalone, said hi to some harbor seals (watch out for those orcas, Mr. Seal!), ate good food, and had a delicious cocktail we dubbed “Willow’s Sunset.” In these moments, Wayfare Collective was born.  

We all have moments when we feel like we should be responsible, figure out our lives, get things done. Of course, there is a time and a place for that. In reality, there is more than enough time spent being responsible and not nearly enough spent on travel, exploration, and enjoying nature. I have never regretted an adventure, a risk I took, or failing to get my laundry basket empty. Had I not been on that boat, I never would have forgotten this missed opportunity. Moral of the story? The next time an adventure presents itself, just say yes. 

Photo Credit: Andrew Raaf

Photo Credit: Andrew Raaf

Santa Cruz Island, our impression of orcas, the sails that got us there, a snorkel and scuba sess, and some board time. 

Photo Credit: Kristine Faloon

Photo Credit: Kristine Faloon

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