This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (http://rbmartiniv.smugmug.com).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Getting My Sea Legs

The morning dawned gray, wet, and windy.  It wasn’t a hard rain, just off-and-on drizzle, but enough to get you wet.  The bus would be here at 8:45AM to pick us up and take us down to the St. John’s harbor for our morning whale watching (or searching for) tour.  In preparation for our cruise we got out all of our foul weather gear.  I would finally be able to wear the rain suit that I bought a few weeks ago (after which, the rain went away until this morning).  Shortly before the bus was due to arrive the rain stopped, probably an evil trick in order to catch us outside later.  When Carol Ann and I joined the group we received quite a few “condolences” from those who knew of our expensive repair job yesterday.  There was genuine concern, or perhaps it was more of  “I’m glad it wasn’t me!”

At the appointed time a big, nice looking, white tour bus with the tour company’s name painted on its side drove into the campground, pulled up to our group, and stopped.  The door opened and people began filing onto the bus.  Perhaps half a dozen people had boarded when someone yelled, “That’s not our bus!”  There was another RV tour group at the campground and this bus was for their city tour, not our trip to the docks.  You really can’t blame anyone.  It’s conditioning.  If a bus stops in front of you and its door opens, people are simply drawn into it. 

A few minutes later our bus showed up.  It was yellow with the name of a school painted on its side.  It got a lot of laughs and jeers but it was only a 10- or 15-minute ride to the boat.  Our tour would be with Iceberg Quest (icebergquest.com) aboard the MV Cetacean Quest. 

The rain returned once the bus arrived at Iceberg Quest’s dock and we began off-loading the bus.  There was coffee (or tea) and muffins waiting for us before we boarded the boat.  Everyone grabbed a cup and a muffin and hurried on board the MV Cetacean Quest to escape the rain.  The enclosed portion of the boat (or should I say ship?) was a bit cramped for all 44 of us so I put on my rain suit and joined a few other hardy souls on the top deck.  It was a much better view and I have never liked taking pictures through windows.

Captain Barry and his crew cast off and we cruised toward the harbor entrance.  All was right with the world.  It was still gray and threatening but the temperature was warm and the water relatively calm.  Then we exited the harbor into the Atlantic.  As fast as you can flip a light switch from "off" to "on" the weather changed!  The temperature dropped immediately, the swells got larger, the rain returned, and it began to get a little foggy.  We cruised along the south shore into the wind, rain, and swells.  This was the closest I had been to going out to sea on a boat and I thought it must have been similar to riding a roller coaster or a mechanical bull (of course I have never actually ridden one, but I have seen one ridden).   Attempting to use my camera and hang on to the railing at the same time was not an easy task.  But still, I thought it was a lot of fun.  Except for two in our group that I know about, everyone was enjoying the ride.  I won’t mention the names of the two who were not enjoying it as the ride was, in fact, making them quite ill.

We had cruised for about an hour and a half of the two-hour cruise seeing only birds.  I was beginning to thing that the cruise was a bust and the only things we were going to see other than water would be birds.  Captain Barry was doing his best, but there were no guarantees.  It was time for Captain Barry to start back towards the harbor when (I’m going to say it!), “Thar’ she blows!”  Directly ahead of us you could see the water from the whale’s blowhole spray into the air.  As we drew closer it seemed like Captain Barry was herding the whale in an attempt to keep it between the boat and the shore so it wouldn’t head out to sea as fast.  We had followed the whale for ten or fifteen minutes, getting glimpses of only its back and blow hole.  I thought we had lost it when all of a sudden out of the corner of my eye I saw something huge coming out of the water only a few yards off the to right (starboard?) side of the boat.  I swung the camera around, pointed it towards the big humpback whale that was shooting up out of the water, and held down the shutter release button so that the shutter was firing like a machine gun.  Then suddenly it was over and the whale was gone.  The entire event only lasted a few seconds.  Did I have any good shots?  The camera and lens had not been set for an object that close and of course there was no time to change any of the settings so I could only hope.  I wouldn’t be able to tell until I got back to the RV and downloaded the photos to my Mac.

The rain began coming down harder as we arrived at the dock and began to disembark.  Close to half of our people wished to return directly to the RV park while the rest of us voted to go to a restaurant.  Transportation was arranged and soon another yellow bus showed up.  This time it was the “short bus” and it took at least two trips to get all of us to Jungle Jim’s, not too far from the waterfront.

Jungle Jim’s is owned by Captain Barry Rogers and Carol Anne Hayes.  However, the restaurant’s décor is not nautical (which I was glad of!).  It’s more “Margaritaville” than anything.  Even though the restaurant was large it did not “feel” too big because it was laid out in two or three distinct sections, on different levels.   Carol Anne (Hayes, not my Carol Ann – the “e” is the difference) was a very attentive and entertaining hostess, making sure that we received good food and good service.  There were free appetizers (crab legs or chicken wings) with our ticket stubs from the boat tour.  I had a very cold draft beer soon after I was seated and for my entrée I had a burger with fries.  It was all good.  By the way, you should go by Jungle Jim’s before the boat tour and pick up a coupon that is good for $5 off the boat tour.  It says that it is “valid for 12,000 years!”  Then go back after the boat tour with your ticket stub and get the free appetizer with your meal.


After lunch we returned to the RV park and took a long nap in preparation for tomorrow’s overnight ferry ride back to Nova Scotia.  There is supposedly Wi-Fi on the ferry so I may be able to post from there.  The weather is not looking good for the crossing so it could be interesting.  I’ll let you know.

1 comment :

Croft Randle said...

I have similar photos from a whale tour on the West Coast. The wales are only paid for a single breaching so if you are lucky, you catch it. If not, tough, no encores!