The Whale Watch of Doom

This is what you are supposed to see on a whale watch.

This is what you are supposed to see on a whale watch.

What we saw looked more like this (without the CanStock watermark)

What we saw looked more like this (without the CanStock watermark)

My sister and I woke up at the ungodly hour of 5am, schlepped through the dark and the cold and the rain to make it to Cape Ann by 9:30. The weather was foreboding and ominous. We were half-expecting a call from the whale watchers telling us it was called off because of the stormy conditions. But a little rain wasn’t going to stop us from seeing a humpback whale dammit!

I was a bit concerned when I saw we were boarding a boat called the Hurricane II (Like, what happened to the Hurricane I? And why not a more pleasant name like We Heart Whales or Calm Seas or anything that doesn’t evoke such terrible images?) But we got on anyways, noting that not only was it rainy and damp, but the fog was getting quite thick as well. Our tour guide came out to say that they had spotted some whales the day before so we would head out to that same spot, about 45 minutes out to sea. She said the conditions made their job a bit more challenging but they were hopeful that we’d see something.

My fear of boats and water has subsided somewhat after six months of commuting across the Bosphorus by ferry, and spending some time in the Mediterranean on a small-ish and less-than-steady boat. So while I had some butterflies, I was gonna tough it out if the payoff was the awesome sight of a whale spout or maybe even breaching.

We gave up our seats in the warm cabin to freeze and get spit on with rain on the open deck. The ship was plowing through the waters at a nice speed causing some turbulence so we staked ourselves out a spot against the wall and didn’t plan on moving. Until we realized we were right by the bathroom and one person rushed in with seasickness, tearing me from my stable ground. The waters were getting choppier and choppier.

The one seasick girl was soon joined by some others as we held on for dear life with the boat rocking harder. If anyone was running too quickly on deck, I think they would have fallen overboard. And although I’ve never seen “A Perfect Storm” but the grey waves and skies were evoking images from that movie. We were out alone in the middle of open water surrounded by fog. I half-expected to see a pirate ship with black sails come upon us to fully epitomize the terror-on-the-seas feeling. So many people were getting ill that the crew made a special announcement that if you were feeling queasy, you should move to the back of the boat where it was more stable. The funny thing was WE were at the back of the boat and it felt anything but steady. My knees kept buckling every time we hit a particularly large swell.

Finally after 45 minutes of blinding fear, we reached the point where they had seen some whales the day before. We slowed down, which thankfully meant the boat had become more stable. I kept looking for a spout of water but with the whitecaps on the waves – and the dense fog – it was really hard to make out anything. And not only were there no whales to be seen, but all the wildlife seemed to be hibernating that day. We saw a couple of seagulls which was less than thrilling. I can go to the local Wal-Mart parking lot to see them. Where were the whales and dolphins and porpoises and all those other cool sea animals you watch on National Geographic?

Some time passed as we “worked” the area the whales were in the previous day but apparently, they don’t like the rain. The captain announced that due to the bad visibility and general crappiness of the weather (and probably the fact that the toilets were clogged with vomit), we were heading home.

So no whales. 😦 And no refund, we just got a ticket for a whale watch that is good for the rest of our life, or until the company goes out of business for taking people out on the waters in such awful conditions. But I did get an experience so scary that no ghost hunt or staged haunted house could compare. Happy Halloween!!


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