We flew in to Boston super early. We’d come for business, but like all other trips, we had to squeeze in something fun as well. This time it was to be whale watching. We dropped our bags at the hotel and grabbed a cab to the waterfront near the New England Aquarium.
We had a little time before departure, so we ducked into the insanely crowded Aquarium to grab some lunch. That may or may not have been a wise decision, but at least we had some food in our stomachs for the two hour trip ahead. Walking towards the departure point, we queued up with others to wait for time to load the huge catamaran tied off to the docks.
Boarding time came with an announcement – if you need Dramamine, take it now. Uh, what? For some reason it never occurred to me that taking a catamaran twenty miles off the coast of Boston into the north Atlantic would involve seasickness. I know, I know….how could it not have? Oh well, we were here, it was time to load, and I ain’t no chicken.
We loaded up on a full stomach with no Dramamine and chose a seat on the front deck of the boat. I mean, if you are going to get sick, might as well enjoy the ride until it happens – right? Seas were only about 2-3 feet, but boy did I underestimate how much a catamaran rocks and rolls on even the slightest swells.
After enjoying some of the sights (see lighthouse pic above) and clearing the harbor, we really started to pick up a little speed. There were some people standing on the very front of the boat as it took the first measurable swells….if you like roller coasters, this ride is for you. We went up and then came down at almost a forty-five degree angle. Those standing on the very front ran backwards, clinging to the rails. I, on the other hand, was sitting and after the shock of the first up and down, I was having a great time. No seasickness, the spray in my face, and brisk cool temperatures woke me up after the early morning.
We had about an hour of this before reaching our target. Right off we saw several minke whales, or at least we saw parts of them as the broke the surface of the water.
But I wanted a humpback. We knew we were getting close to something when the number of seagulls circling over the water increased dramatically. Apparently they hang around when whales are feeding so they can pick up scraps. Despite the bumpy ride out, now the sea was calm, almost dead calm. It was so overcast that it was hard for my camera to differentiate ocean from sky as there wasn’t a real focus point. Even the horizon was almost gone, blended together with ocean and sky to create one vast gray vista.
Our patience finally paid off as we spotted a couple of humpbacks nearby. Our boat captain was taking cues from other boats in the area who had already spotted them. If you’ve never seen a whale in the wild and up close, they are more massive than you can imagine. We never saw one completely breach, but just seeing bits and pieces was enough.
I think my favorite thing was when they’d blow air out of their blowhole. It sounded like a trumpeting elephant as water shot into the sky. In an otherwise quiet world, it and the quietly lapping water against the boat was all you heard…well, at least in my head where I was out there alone like Ahab, searching for Moby Dick.
We didn’t stay long as we had the hour ride back into Boston. I could have stayed out there all day, but alas, it wasn’t to be. As we headed back into Boston, it was late afternoon and the clouds were starting to give way to color as the sun began to set. It was a truly beautiful sight and the end to a great experience.
And no, I never got seasick. 🙂
All photos by author.