Whale watching

Believe it or not, I’ve never been whale-watching. Well, I watched a whale circle the harbor in Cape Town, as I sipped a German beer at a German Bier Haus. And we watched from the ship as whales cavorted, when I sailed round the world. But to actually go on a whale-watching trip – well, it was always on the schedule, but never made it. Until last weekend, when I spent a few days in San Diego visited my good friends Yvonne, Anthony, and Marianne. And we decided to spend a warm winter morning out on the water, seeking the gentle beasts. (A California gray whale)

The company offers a money-back guarantee – if you don’t see a whale, you can come back and try again. So what could we lose? The weather was gorgeous – sunny, low 70’s, no breeze. The boat was full, since it was a holiday, but we got there early and scored seats along the rail. There were volunteers from the Natural History Museum to answer questions and identify the wildlife we encountered, and the captain kept up a running commentary about what we were doing, and seeing, and why. (The Hornblower)

It wasn’t quite as I expected, with whales surfacing right next to the boat and flukes poised for perfect pictures. But we still saw whales. And, after a while, the sight of a spout in the distance was enough to raise a cheer from my fellow whale-watchers. (Except for the senior citizen next to us who kept up a steady conversation with her friends and complained regularly that she hadn’t seen a thing.) The captain maneuvered the boat to intercept or follow the whales, or would stop for a few minutes and give the whales time to become accustomed to our presence. Dolphins and sea lions played played in the waves around the ship, and it was so cool to see them in their element, instead of in captivity. (A schooner we passed – how peaceful would sailing like that be?)

Anyway, we had a great time. One of the first whales we sighted surfaced somewhat near the boat – enough for me to snap a shot of its gray speckled back. We scoured the seas for spouts, learned from the captain’s commentary, and sat in the sun and soaked up some rays. Oh, and chatted. And chatted. And chatted some more. (A spout)

All too soon our three-hour tour was over, and we headed back to port – slightly tanned, rested from the cat naps we grabbed on the way back, and happy to have seen nature doing its thing. My friends are considering buying annual passes, so they can go back any time they want. Sounds like a plan to me! (dolphins)

If you haven’t had the chance to go whale-watching, I highly recommend it. There are worse ways to spend a few hours!

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