Friday, April 10, 2009

Whalewatching at Westport

Monday, April 6, 2009 we drove one hour from Pacific Beach to Westport for whalewatching.  The weather was unusally warm and sunny for early April.  Besides the weather, one thing after another went wrong this day.  First, we sat down at the One Eyed Crab for a meal.  The weather had brought a moderate crowd out, but the restaurant couldn't cope.  They only had one waitress and one cook on duty.  We realized that we would miss our boat, if we waited, so we left the restaurant, hurried on down to the ticket office, and found a greasy spoon nearby where we could get a hamburger.

Our boat was the Lucky Pierre.  You don't choose a boat, but rather a central ticket office assigns you to one.  We had two boats going out at the same time for the 2:00pm cruise.  As we were boarding, my son and I realized that we had left the camera's memory chip at home in his computer: no photos on this trip and thus no photo on this blog entry.

I enjoyed the first 25 minutes of the trip immensely.  The harbor was full of wildlife: big sea lions and lots of birds.  The weather was clear and we could see the entire Olympic mountain range to the north.  A giant sand bank lies just below the surface across the harbor mouth, and this causes 20 foot waves to suddenly well up all around the boat.  These waves are big enough that you see the boat climb up the wave, coast down the other side, and then it reaches a trough between two waves with nothing else in sight - just like in the movies!  It was an awesome sight.

And that's when my tummy went all funny.  I sat down for the next half hour, but pretty soon I had to deposit my greasy hamburger in the ocean.  In total I ran to the side of the boat four times, heaving up bile once my stomach had emptied itself.  After this, I spent much of the next 3 hours lying down.

The boat cruised up to the reliable "whale hole" - just offshore from the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino.  Here plankton well up from the deep and the whales stop to feed.  All the boats in the area keep in radio contact and cooperate over locating whales.  But today we were out of luck.  Somebody saw a single whale spout blow, but no whale was in sight by the time we reached the spot.  We cruised slowly back towards Wesport, hoping a whale would put in an appearance, but it never happened.

On this return trip my family were all freezing to death.  We had underdressed for the occasion due to the nice weather.  Out on the ocean you always need long pants and a heavy coat.

One of my kids got sick like me, but the other people on the boat were fine.  I've read that missing the whales like we did is very unusual.  Perhaps I'll take a dramamine and try this trip again in future with a functioning camera.

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