Flutterby™! : Whale Watching II

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Whale Watching II

2004-03-14 22:17:08.472352+00 by Dan Lyke 1 comments

As promised, further updates on the whale watching: After a lot of searching about, we discovered that the Oceanic Society owns the search engines. Their phone number just lead to an answering machine, but their 1 PM trip leaving from Bodega Bay[Wiki] said "reservations recommended", and we figured that just a Saturday doodling up Route 1 to Bodega Bay[Wiki] wouldn't be wasted, so we headed west out Sir Francis Drake to the coast. We drove into the Porto Bodega Marina[Wiki], who directed us to a bait shop, which said "it's too rough today, we're not going out, but the boats leave from...", which left us at another bait shop (that appears to only be open from 5:00 to 8:00 A.M.) that had a tattered flyer for whale watching, 707-875-3495. One "1 bar, roaming rates apply" call later and we had reservations on the 65 foot New Sea Angler[Wiki], for $25/person.

While we waited we wandered down to the bird viewing area at the south end of town and saw this little guy sitting on a tree, still for an amazingly long time.

It turns out that the Oceanic Society trip was full, so we made the right call. But they had a naturalist who seemed to be giving a lot of the background on different whales and a whole song and dance. We had the captain (and owner) and a crew member, and not much ongoing patter. The large size of the boat was a mixed blessing, the waves once we got out into the ocean were pretty big, and this boat was large enough to bridge some of them, which means that standing on the bow we got a lot of vertical action. It was impossible to stand without holding on, and I got a lot of that ticklish feeling that accompanies extended periods of sub 1 g.

We picked up one whale just out of the harbor, past the rock pictured in yesterday's entry, fairly close to shore. We tracked him for a while north, seeing the occasional spout (same image from yesterday on the left), and then headed a mile or two out and turned south. After a while it seemed like the captain was desperate to show us anything, we got up close views of assorted drifting shrimp with clusters of birds, when suddenly a cheer went up. We saw a couple of spouts, and turned back north to track along with them a while.

I don't know what normal is, when we went orca watching up in the San Juan Islands we saw one full breach and lots of backs and fins and they were apologetic that the whales weren't playful that day. This day we saw a lot of spouts at a distance, and a few backs. No fins. Don't know if that was the rough weather or the different type of whales.

In the end, our 3 hour trip turned into probably closer to 4 and a half as we tracked these guys for quite a while northwards, and then hung out behind the rock with the sea lions for a while coming back in. We definitely got our money's worth, and I'd ride the New Sea Angler[Wiki] again, but before I did I'd take a more expensive trip with a naturalist to give me a little more background. It's clear that seeing whales is not like a trip to Muir Woods[Wiki] to see the redwoods, there's a lot of chance involved, and if you're serious about seeing them (and especially about getting pictures) you'd need to spend a lot of time out there, something you want to do as inexpensively as possible, but if you've only got one day out a good patter from a guide can make up for a lot in the viewing experience.

While we were fairly comfortable out there, as we rode back the sun was at a low angle behind us, so the bow was pretty chilly. Once we docked it was into the car, and go find a place with hot clam chowder. We settled on the southernmost of the two on the water restaurants. Charlene had a bowl of the clam chowder and a somewhat lackluster salad, I had a cup and a pot of the "fisherman's stew". I've had great seafood stews, this wasn't one of 'em, but it wasn't bad. The fish wasn't overcooked, the shellfish were fresh and tender, but the broth was lacking a little something.

But overall, a nice day out.

[ related topics: Photography Dan's Life Nature and environment Food California Culture Travel Boats Birds ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: wow! made: 2004-03-14 23:26:21.053734+00 by: polly

what a beautiful way to spend a sunday...beats reading the sunday paper in bed with a pot of coffee. i've never had any inclination to visit california, fires & earthquakes don't appeal to me, but looking at your whale pictures sure does make me consider changing my mind. i followed the link to "how californians..." etherf@rm makes california sound like a nice place to visit, just don't want to live there, lol, about how i feel about florida and i was BORN there!

today i did get to "bang" the drum that i borrowed from meuon to some techno music, THAT was fun. the band teacher at my school is going to teach me how to play the drums...i love the beat! one day you will find me in a drum circle.