…by Anura Guruge
“I saw the tail. It was that big” … initial sighting, the whales close to another whale watch boat … that then took off. It was the distance that made the tail small, just in case you thought we had seen an unusual dwarf whale.
Tuesday, September 4, 2012, was my birthday, 59th birthday at that, and per the family custom (introduced by me ages ago) I get to chose what we do for the day. Last year I chose to go on a whale watch because I had not been on one in nearly a decade — and I really didn’t see any whales on that trip. So we went last year, out of Rye, NH, on a glorious, Sunny day. It was a huge success. We got to see 5 of the rare, endangered North Atlantic Right Whales. We saw 5 together. The total worldwide population of that species is about 400. Then on the way back we had a huge, ‘brown’ fin whale swim alongside the boat.
So, I wanted a repeat (though Devanee, never that fond of boats was reluctant, especially as she threw up last year). So it was kind of agreed and we got motion sickness pills for Devanee (which the crew was recommending, highly, today). On Sunday we did Dim Sum as a prelude for the birthday — so the day was ‘clear’, albeit not in terms of weather or Teischan’s school. But, per another tradition, instilled in me by an uncle, a doctor who birthed me, I only celebrate birthdays on the actual day. The day before, the day after or the most convenient weekend might be dandy, but it is NOT your birthday. So we took Teischan out of school, a whale watch, an educational field trip by any standards.
Yes, we had rain. Not as heavy as in NH. We checked the weather, we called them up and in the end drove to Boston, and parked (validated for the whale watch) — around noon. The boat was scheduled to leave at 1:30pm. We watched the weather. I talked to people. We waited until the very last minute. I heard that they had seen two humpbacks on the morning trip. So I bought the tickets.
The boat was 10 minutes late arriving, so we left around 1:40pm. It wasn’t bad. It was gray but the rain had stopped. Teischan and I stood on the 2nd level, open platform for over 30 minutes going out. It is a twin engine catamaran and it sure does hoof it. It was fun. I am used to fast boats. This one was doing about 31 mph. For about 10 years I had a 23′ Four Winns on Winnipesaukee that would do 52 mph. Teischan, for the first time, demonstrated that she takes after Dad and her older two siblings when it comes to water and boats. Totally fearless. Up and down the stairs, with it blowing a gale, with her binoculars around her neck, with no hesitation or problems. Devanee stayed glued to a table. Very quiet. She even slept as did Deanna.
We first saw the whales around 3:25. Another whale watch boat was babysitting them till we arrived. I saw them from a distance. The 3 bows and a tail. Then the other boat took off — at speed and we had the two whales to ourselves.
Mother and calf. Humpbacks. The boat maneuvered around them for about 25 minutes. At least one of the two (typically the baby) stayed up much of the time. The mother would go under and then surface alongside. She was big and would always elicit cries of wonder. Teischan was mesmerized. She was going ‘wow, wow’. Devanee was impressed too. So that was good. It was definitely a moving experience for them.
I didn’t count, but I don’t think there were more than 40 people on the trip — on a boat capable of carrying 300, I think. So plenty of space and no jostling around. The sun actually came out when we were watching the whales. It was great.
We then hoofed it back. Deanna says it was rough. Where we were watching the whales it was 5′ waves. I asked one of the crew. To me that isn’t much. Other than way out, I thought it was calm. I have seen bigger swells in lakes in NH. I spent at least 40 minutes, by myself on the very top observation deck, looking straight forward coming back. It was beautiful. Coming into Boston with Logan airport to starboard. That used to be my second home for nearly a decade.
Good trip all around. I am already planning the whale watch for next year. Last year Rye. This year Boston. Next year maybe I will split the difference and go out of Gloucester. From what I can now see, boats from there have the most direct shot to the whale beds.
From the very top, where I spent the last 40 minutes or so enjoying the boat hoofing it back to Boston. Loved it.