When my dear friend, Lisa asked if I’d want to join a group of folks she was arranging a whale watching trip for, I jumped at the opportunity. My tendency towards motion sickness took a back seat to my adventurous side (Thank you, Dramamine).
The five of us gathered on shore for our beach pick up, were scooted over to Orcas Island to pick up a family of four. There, we were all outfitted with warm jackets, and given a safety talk. Soon, we were off in our little boat for a big adventure.
Bo, our captain/tour guide, was extremely knowledgeable. We stop off shore at a few of the islands along the way to catch a glimpse at sea lions, eagles, and other wild life. We also got a bit of a history lesson on one island where, apparently, 200 wild animals (lions and tigers and zebras, oh my) had been shipped for nothing more than to appease the island’s owner joy of hunting.
Somewhere between Orcas Island and the Canadian waters, my thoughts drifted off to my stepfather. Whale watching is something that my he had always wanted to do with the family. In anticipation of his grandchildren being large enough to tolerate the trip, he talked about it for many years. Sadly, that trip he dreamed of never happened.
Having died just before his 55th birthday, I’m sure that this was one of many things he’d have had listed on his Bucket List (if he had one). It was such a big thing that after his passing, we all considered taking that trip as a way to honor him and possibly to also spread his ashes out to sea. It was no surprise that I felt my stepfather’s presence as we got close to the whales.
Apparently, the rules for whale watching have changed earlier this year. U.S. regulations now dictate that whale watching vessels “must not approach any killer whale within 200 yards [183 metres],” and that “vessels must stay out of the path of oncoming whales out to 400 yards [366 metres].” This relatively new rule meant that my desires for a closer look at the whales was prohibited as we were still in U.S. waters.
It also meant that I was not going to get a really good picture, IF I was lucky enough to time my camera click with the whale’s surfacing. I clicked away, unsure if there was any whale in any of my frames. I knew I wouldn’t know until after the photos were downloaded. At some point, I reminded myself that the trip was not about photographing the whales; it was about watching them.
That, we did (from afar). We had a whale of time!