Video: A visit to the mysterious, forbidden Farallon Islands

Posted by on Tue, July 10, 2007

Darin Boville

When the air is reasonably free of mist and fog we can see them out there, marking the horizon. The Farallon Islands [Wikipedia] rise up enigmatic on the edge of the continental shelf, familiar and yet mysterious. The islands themselves are protected and off-limits. Few Coastsiders, though they often see them in the distance, have ventured the twenty-six miles out to visit with them.

Kenny Howell, in this third installment of his video series Messing Around In Boats takes us there on a scientific research vessel, NOAA’s Fulmar.

If you haven’t been to the Farallones this is a must-see fourteen minutes. (It took us over seven hours on the water.)

Kenny’s trip to the Farallon Islands was generously sponsored by the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

 width= Farallon Islands visit [14 mins] | Quicktime | Flash |

Courtesy of Montara Fog.

FABULOUS!!! Seeing the Farallones close up is so wonderful after seeing them from afar for so long. Hearing the almost deafening sounds of the all the sea birds…amazing! This video is great. I felt like I was with my grandfather out of Morro Bay heading north against the swell (yeah I got sick too)some 30 years ago. Thanks so much for sharing!

Hi Suzy,

I’m glad you like the film.

I should warn viewers—especially if you watch it on a big screen—you’ll need to wear one of those wristbands!

The actual ride was much rougher than depicted—I worked hard to even out the bounces, shot only in smoother spots, etc. I didn’t show it but people were often knocked to the deck on the really big plunges. After an especially big swell the bow of the boat would crash down through the air and smack into the next swell.


I don’t know who had the more difficult job: me, trying to keep the camera level or Kenny, making it all look so easy and natural. (He has “the gift,” I think.)

We do it all for you, the viewer!


A while back I recall hearing about an important Silicon Valley person vanishing while heading for the Farallons. His mother had died and he went on a solitary voyage to the Farallons…and then reportedly vanished…

Was he found?


Excellent video. Twenty years ago, I went there on a 36 foot sailboat in a local race. Looks like not much has changed and that is good. We were too busy setting the spinnaker to get a good look. Thanks.