Yesterday I boarded the Dana Pride at 10 minutes past twelve. I was one of the last passengers to get on the boat, 111 of us signed up for the "1/2 price Tuesdays" Whale Watching Excursion out of Dana Point Harbor. By 12:45pm our Captain spotted 2 whales and everyone on board got very excited.
The captain told us he was celebrating 30+ years of working Whale Watching excursions, and with the aid of sonar technology - once the whales are spotted, he tracked for us within 30 or 45 seconds when they were coming the surface for air.
It was very exciting and educational - and the best part, the day at sea off the coast of Dana Point, CA - perfect ! No photograph or postcard could do this day justice, it was perfect.
The sun bright and friendly, the water calm, just enough waves in the ocean to feel the rocking presence of Mom Nature. It was hot on the sunny side of the boat, and cool when you were in the shade. The boat was at 75% capacity, it never felt crowded. We had a handful of serious photographers on board with long telephoto lenses on their SLR cameras - and then the rest of us had point and shoot cameras and many people used their smart phones. Some passengers came on board, found sweet spots on the deck and took long naps. There was seating inside, outside, and right at the front of the boat. They had a full galley serving up hamburgers, hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches. The Dana Pride was quite a set up. The boat goes out three times per day 10am, 12pm and 2pm - from the Dana Wharf.
The whales that we visited with were a bit shy, they did not did breach the surface of the water like they do in the Pacific Life Insurance commercials. The captain remarked that breaching does not happen very often. The whales were about 50 to 100 yards from the boat and when they came up for air we saw the blowholes - then parts of their backs as they were headed back down and then the flukes.
Their visits to the surface were fast - the captain helped out by telling us where to look, using the positions of the clock. It was all very exciting, certainly the experience left you with wanting to see them again and again. We had the whales close to the boat for about 45 minutes and then they went back down and we lost them.
The time on the water was a such a treat. I went on the excursion by myself and I enjoyed the mental quiet. I was in full observation and appreciation mode; at one point I found a quiet spot in the sun and I took in as much of the beautiful ocean and the warm sunny day as possible. I was focused on taking in the joy of being on the ocean, the gentle rocking back and forth of the vessel, a maternal whisper from the universe.
If I could do it all over again, I would go tomorrow, whale sightings or not. The blue of the water, the wake of the boat, the birds following along, the fresh fresh air, the warmth of the sun, the tiny hit of salt, every aspect of the experience was awesome !