Whale watch: our trip continues

July 23, 2010

READING NOTES: If you didn’t start with Part I yesterday, you may want to page down and start there. 😉 If you read a version you got by email earlier, before this sentence, read this one instead. Riley pushed “post” and posted the blog before I was ready. I am not kidding. And you won’t see video unless you go to the blog itself. Use volume so you hear the narration.

Our story continues:

So there we are, on the Pacific Ocean in the early morning overcast, rocking and rolling and pounding with the boat, having a rollicking good time keeping company with humpbacks, blues, albatrosses (with six-foot wingspans) and all sort of marine life.

I’ve been whale watching on Monterey Bay before, when pickings were slim. I’ve been whale-watching in Alaska’s Glacier Bay, where most of the trip was journey and oh-by-the-way-we saw-a-few-whales.

Not this trip. We starting seeing whales right away.

Here’s one of our first sightings, probably just before 9:45am. The voice you hear is our very enthusiastic marine biologist captain. You may want to take a Dramamine: in this early video, I’m trying to hold it still on a rocking boat. I get the hang of it later. When I lean against M. and nearly push him overboard.

Here’s the first video:

We loved all the extra info our captain knew about the whales. She didn’t jabber constantly, either. She talked only when she had info to impart. Stick with this next video of a trio of humpbacks ( I think) to the end, gorgeous shots of the whale flukes.

At this point, as you can hear on the tape, young Michael was making a valiant effort to enjoy the trip. But it was still early. Here’s the video:

To help us look in the right direction, our captain used the clock when she saw a whale . It was effective.

“Blue whales at 11 o’clock!” she’d call out and we’d all rush to the left side (port) of the boat.
“Humpbacks at 5 o’clock!” and, as the boat rocked and rolled we’d all stagger to the starboard.

The waves weren’t bad, but the boat really pounded hard through them. I tried to imagine that the Pacific was the Bering Sea and that I was a deckhand on the Cornelia Marie. If Captain Phil could do it, so could I. I felt great. Of course, I didn’t have to sling around one-ton crab pots.

Young Michael, on the other hand, was not feeling so great. He was yellow. My husband, a cruel man, began to sing “I’m turning Japanese.” I went over and asked my nephew how he was. He had a death grip on the railing, was breathing through his mouth and could barely speak.

One of the young, handsome deckhands went over to give him some ginger candy. The hand told me that 10 other passengers had mal de mer. We knew this trip was going to be at least four and maybe five hours. Young Michael had three more hours to go with no escape, since we were in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Surrounded by whales. From the looks of him, though, suicide might have been a viable option. More video below:

Everywhere we looked, a whale was blowing, breeching, showing us its fluke and opening its mouth to suck down krill.

The day wore on. We saw perhaps 100 whales. We’d left Fisherman’s Wharf just after 9am and it was now 12:30pm.

M. sat on the boat’s bench zoning out. He was bored. He’d seen enough whales and was ready to go home. Me, too. Enough already.

The deckhand came over to see if M. was ok. “He’s fine, just bored,” I told him.
“Yeah, it’s marine mammal overload,” the deckhand said. “I’ve had guys grab me by the collar and demand with puke breath ‘When are we going back?'”

TMI. But I felt the same way. Without the puke breath.

Our captain, however, enthusiastically headed us back out to sea to find more whales. “We’ve got time left, so let’s go out and see if we can find some more!!!” she broadcast with glee.

Geez, Captain Ahab, don’t you ever get tired of this? For us, it was like carrying coals to Newcastle. We’d seen more than our share of whales. We wanted terra firma and a nice lunch. So did everyone else. By this time kids were hanging off the sides, losing their lunch. At least 10 people were sprawled on the padded benches inside, some asleep. It sure looked like everyone was ready to go back.

But not our marine biologist captain. She really did remind us of Moby Dick’s Captain Ahab, driving that boat across the waves, looking for dorsal fins, blows and flukes. Ride ’em, cowgirl!

I looked at my watch.
“One-o’clock,” I sighed.
“Humpback or blue,” M.asked, thinking I was pointing out whales.
I was noting the time. Yes, we had been on the water too long.

The only consolation was that we got very very close to two huge blue whales, as you can see. The voice is our captain, who told us it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as blue whale sightings are rare. Here’s video:

It seemed like our captain wanted us to get our money’s worth. I hadn’t realized we’d paid by the whale.

But there was a crew of marine photographers up top with captain and her dogs…. and she mentioned that they were taking each whale’s “identification photo.” M. was suspicious.

“I’d hate to think that all these people have paid money for these marine biologists to be doing research,” he groused.

Hmm. Could be why she was so enthusiastic about our finding every last whale in the universe. But, she said they “donated” their photos to research.

And then, I looked over at young Michael. Every minute must have felt like an hour, every hour an eternity. He’d been ill for almost four hours and hadn’t moved from his side of the boat. Just then, the entire crowd rushed to his side, the port, for sighting. He immediately moved to the empty starboard. A deckhand came over and asked, “you hanging in there?”

At that moment, young M. lost his breakfast into the ocean. Repeatedly.

Well, we finally set foot on the wharf around 1:30pm. I figured it would take us a while to regain our land-legs, but nope. Stepped off the boat and immediately had them.

Our young charge was well enough to devour a calamari steak sandwich and fries at Domenico’s, and then we headed home. Where he devoured two barbecue sandwiches with two servings of potato salad and an apple pastry.

Our objective had been to provide young Michael with a day to remember.

And so we did.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Carol


Here you’ll find my blog, some of my essays, published writing, and my solo performances. There’s also a link to my Etsy shop for healing and grief tools offered through A Healing Spirit.


I love comments, so if something resonates with you in any way, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by–oh, and why not subscribe so you don’t miss a single post?


Subscribe to my Blog

Receive notifications of my new blog posts directly to your email.