No whales!

I woke up at 6 o’clock this morning to the sound of thunder.  For almost two hours, the lightning flashed, the thunder crashed and the rain poured. I could feel our whale watching excursion slipping away.  Then, shortly before 8 o’clock, the rain stopped and the sky began to clear.  We got up and got ready to go.  

IMG_4755The sun began to shine as we drove down the long, narrow peninsula known as Digby Neck.  We arrived a bit early at Tiverton, home of Ocean Explorations Zodiac Whale Cruises, so we walked to nearby Boar’s Head lighthouse.  On our way, the fog rolled in.  When we got back, cruise operator, Tom Goodwin, told us that the conditions were “challenging”, that he couldn’t guarantee that we’d see any whales and that we could cancel if we wanted to.    

We had chosen Ocean Explorations because it was recommended by my sister and because we’d be riding in a zodiac that would allow us to see the whales from water level.  If I had to do it over again, I’d choose a different company.  Some of them offer a money back guarantee if no whales are spotted. I’m betting that none of those ones went out today.  I really think that the operator, with his knowledge of local conditions, should make the decision whether or not to go out rather than leaving it to the tourists who have little or no experience to base such a decision on.  A few people, who live close enough to come again another day, chose not to go out today but the rest of us decided to take our chances.  We weren’t out on the water very long when it became clear that the chance of seeing a whale was slim to nil.  If we’d been told this up front, we wouldn’t have gone.  The zodiac ride was fun but it certainly wasn’t worth what we paid for it.


Most of the time, we couldn’t see anymore than 100 feet in any direction. With the exception of a few seals and a variety of seabirds, including some young puffins, we saw nothing but water and fog. Once, when we stopped to listen for whales, we heard another boat pass by so close to us that we were rocked by the waves of its wake but we never even saw it!  The rest of the time, we heard nothing but the water slapping on the bottom of our boat.

IMG_4767After searching for whales for three hours, we returned to Tiverton.  Before coming back to camp, we did a short hike to Balancing Rock.  The hiking trail is a combination of gravel trail, boardwalks across areas of bog and a flight of 235 stairs.  That’s a lot of stairs all at once but not as many as we did on an average day in Japan!  Balancing Rock is an interesting formation; a huge basalt pillar that appears ready to topple from its base at any moment.

Today’s good news is that Richard’s antibiotic has clearly started to take effect.  After peaking late last night, his pain has started to subside.


2 thoughts on “No whales!

  1. Even though you did not see any whales, you are probably lucky to have gone out into the fog for THREE hours and got back to shore safe and sound!!!! Is the zodiac equipped with GPS that they dare go out into a foggy sea?

  2. Yes, the zodiac was equipped with both compass and GPS so we felt completely safe. I heard it said recently that lighthouses are becoming obsolete because almost all boats are using GPS now. I guess that’s a good development. The sea has claimed far too many lives over the years but I’d really hate to see the lighthouses disappear! I love them and can’t quite imagine our coastlines without it’s sentinels.

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