Whale Watching Tour
Spring break of 1990, like every other spring when the girls were young, we went to the
Whale watching out of
That morning we ate breakfast in the beachfront condominium while watching turbulent breakers hit the shore. Even though the storm was miles out at sea, its effect was churning the sand and crashing high in the rocks. This, too, was a new experience for us.
The ocean refused to mellow and a three-hour postponement of the charter resulted.
After lunch, we returned to the launch area. The captains conferred and decided the trip was on.
There were several boats between 40 and 50 feet in length at the pier. Our group of four boarded with about 15 other people. The other boats were also at full capacity. The hubby and I insisted that our daughters wear life jackets, as did we. I was shocked that many of the passengers did not.
As soon as we left the more tranquil harbor, I knew it was a mistake. I did not know that I would get so sick.
A fishing boat that belonged to the fleet radioed a whale sighting due west. The captains pointed their boats out to sea and the diesel engines droned and whined depending on our position in the swells.
The rolling waves were so deep that we lost sight of the others as we dropped into deep and angry watery canyons. Up and down, up and down, down, down, down, and then up. My lunch was threatening the “up” part, too.
Our youngest, Amanda, turned grey and the hubby took her into the small wheelhouse (?) at the center of the boat where she could sit down. Another man joined them and brought his son, who promptly regurgitated his lunch all over our expensive camera and bag.
I wanted none of that. The hubby said there would be less motion at the back of the boat so I hugged the railing and found my way there. The ride was somewhat more stable, but the diesel fumes from the struggling engine increased my discomfort.
Suddenly, a large cooler stored against the cabin slammed across the deck and knocked the woman next to me off her feet. I was too sick to offer a hand. The captain moved somewhat skillfully across to help her up.
After a brief apology, he chained the offending container with the help of his one crew member. Then, he picked up his thermos coffee cup and began to climb one-handed up the ladder that lead to the bridge. The boat lurched violently and he fell from the fourth rung and landed on the same woman that he had only a moment ago helped to her feet.
In the meantime, middle daughter Jen positioned herself on the narrow walk on the side of the boat and held tight to the railing. In her trusty raincoat, she was having the thrill of her life. She was unfazed by the vomiting people surrounding her. She dodged the majority of it and leaned into the spray from the water smashing against the hull. The young woman standing to her immediate right had been conversing with her by yelling over the engine and the ocean.
“I never get seasick,” the twenty-something woman shouted through the din. Without warning, she turned and lost all the contents of her stomach.
When Jen laughed at her, the conversation ended.
Several times from his higher viewpoint, the captain yelled “whale to starboard” or something like that. Unfortunately, I was not letting go of my rail. Besides, each whale disappeared in the swell before anyone on the deck could ever figure out where it was.
I was deliriously happy when the captain announced we were turning for home.
We rode a little smoother in the swells heading toward land. However, each boat still had to challenge the treacherous and narrow harbor entrance.
Arriving in the calm harbor, I expected to feel better. But, that didn’t happen.
I felt woozy for at least 24 hours. Amanda experienced nausea for two days.
I learned several valuable lessons from this whale-watching charter: (1) some of us cannot sail in rough seas, and (2) seasickness is physically debilitating, and (3) sometimes even sea going veterans don’t always read the ocean correctly.
I am happy to report that a few years ago I gave whale watching another chance with more positive results. This time my two sisters, my daughter Karmyn, and a niece accompanied me.
We used the same charter service and had a wonderful experience. The ocean was beautiful, the sun was shining, and the whales surfaced many times along our boat.
Moreover, because of the blessing of the day, the captains extended our cruise far beyond our allotted time.
PS. Nobody puked.