A Whale of an Excursion

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The water sparkled as the sun beamed brightly in a cloudless sky. As we pulled into the parking spot, we saw a few boats but no apparent captain. I opened the door, and then heard “Hey there! I’m Darren. Are you ready?” A tall, lanky man gestured toward his boat.      

I turned around and shook a strong, outstretched hand. Zoe looked up as she shivered. “I don’t mean to be all salesy, but it will be brisk as we get further into the sea. I have sweatshirts you can buy,” Darren said as he glanced at Zoe. Oh c’mon. Seriously? My mind immediately questioned if this trip we’d already purchased would be a waste. Had we been snared into a touristy excursion?       

We all boarded the boat. And within a few minutes, Darren impressed us with his humility mixed with intellect and humor. He said, “I cannot promise anything today. I feel confident we will see at least one but it is early in the season.”     

Darren asked us to sit down in specific areas. Then he swiftly shifted into high gear; and as he had prepared us, the temperature dropped drastically. (I smiled at Zoe, who snuggled in the electric blue sweatshirt we had decided to purchase.).     

Zoe’s wavy, blond hair blew away from her face. Green, eager eyes surveyed the serene water. Alec and my husband stood next to Zoe; we were all waiting. Suddenly I heard Zoe exclaim, “I see one, I see another!!! OMG!” Darren responded with a nod and decelerated. She rapidly asked questions without even waiting for Darren to answer.     We saw a splash in the distance. While it was lovely, I was a bit underwhelmed. I’ve wanted to experience this moment since I was a young girl. And to be honest, I thought briefly, “this is it?”      

And then it happened. A pod of whales approached our boat. I even heard Darren exclaim, “This is EPIC” as he put down his phone to scan the area. We watched the whales perform as if they’d rehearsed this synchronized symphony of movement. Whales surrounded us, and I think we all stopped breathing for a moment. Somebody asked if the whales could capsize our boat—they were THAT close to us—and Darren quietly moved the boat a few feet away.     

It was unreal. It was majestic. I am profoundly grateful for technology; if I did not have photos and videos, I would seriously think this was all a mirage. Imagine a sci-fi film with mind-blowing special effects. I knew these mammoth mammals would be huge, but I had no idea how tiny humans are next to such gentle giants. We were not just watching a magical movie—we were actually in it.     

The whales seemed to feel our captivated energy. The longer we watched, the more they engaged with us. I gazed at my husband and expressed deep love and gratitude with my eyes. He got it. No words were necessary.      

I looked at Alec and Zoe. Their mouths mirrored the whales, open with wonder and fascination. It was one of the few times our voraciously verbose family quieted during waking hours. Every now and then I heard, “Wow” or “They’re huge” or “This is unbelievable.”     

The tails moved with the rhythm and grace of professional dancers. We also caught this moment at an unusual time; the whales were feeding, and it was exquisite to watch. Gargantuan mouths opened slowly while birds feasted on and around the colossal creatures. It amazed me that such enormous animals could share the sea with dainty birds.     

Zoe commented and giggled that she heard them burp. I learned later she was right, and this was the reason as well for the pungent odor I had noticed. And who knew whales are chatty? These pods certainly sounded like the percussion section of an orchestra.      

It’s been a few weeks since our time in Chatham, Massachusetts. We are continuing to marvel at our luck. We’d debated if this was the right time and place in which to whale watch. It’s extremely unusual to see this many whales at once and certainly not in early July.     

We didn’t know Darren; the whole journey was about trust and faith. There’s a lesson there, too, about life (which I will write about later this month). And the grande finale included playful dolphins and even a few seals! This all happened in less than two hours.     

I cannot stop thinking about our morning, and I will never, ever forget it. We paid money to enter their home unannounced. We must’ve seen at least fifty whales, and I am not exaggerating.     

Our pod, our family of four, intruded on the whales’ habitat. And they not only hosted us, but graced us with a feast for our eyes and splashed magic into our hearts. The best part of it all? I shared this once-in-a-lifetime experience with those I love. 


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