A Whale of a Good Time. Really.

4 Sep

Alan and I tipped off Labor Day in Pleasant Bay, on the northwestern shore of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. The weather was, in fact, pleasant, so we walked over to the marina and jumped on the 9:30 departure of Captain Mark’s Whale Tour.

We soon realized how lucky we were: the boat (a tuna trawler-cum-research vessel) was sailing for its final day of the season,  presumably because the researchers – and their funding – had just returned to their homes the week before. One more day and we would’ve been on a veritable air mattress with a motor. Instead, we – and a dozen other people – chugged out of the harbor with Captain Mark himself at the helm.

Glancing around, Alan gave words to my own observation. “We’re the youngest people on this boat,” he whispered (as much as one CAN whisper over the thrum of a fishing boat’s motor). Awesome. I prefer old people to babies. (But if you’re giving me a gift, I’ll take a puppy over an old person ANY DAY.)

About that time, our guide Brandon covered a few rules, which gave the Seniors a chance to practice their stand-up. “Sounds like we’re in for a WHALE of a good time,” the love-child of Pat Sajack and Chuck Woolery quipped. A French-Canadian woman sporting a long white braid (whom we’d seen at dinner the night before and assumed was drunk) then jumped in with unintelligible jibberish. “Captain Mark! I ride the cock… pit with you!” she shrieked to the amusement/horror of her friends.

Alan and I traded a look and shook our heads. Please, God, bring on the whales fast. Or let someone fall overboard to chum the waters.

We shouldn’t have been so crabby. (<– See? I’m also funny on this boat!) Twenty minutes later we were well off-shore when we saw the first pilot whale. I’m not sure what I expected – a submarine slowly rising to the surface, perhaps? – but was more like Shamu showing off at SeaWorld. We soon had a dozen whales around the boat, including multiple pairs of mothers and calves. Which – despite my not liking babies – were ADORABLE.

It was breath-taking. Don’t believe me? Watch this video from our tour (and see if you can hear the crazy French lady screaming):

As if that weren’t enough, we then followed grey seals hunting in the water off the rocks.

All in all: not a bad way to start a vacation.

4 Responses to “A Whale of a Good Time. Really.”

  1. Bonnie September 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    So is Cape Breton actually an island, or a peninsula off a peninsula? Looks as if there is a solid connection to Nova Scotia.

    • pithypants September 4, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

      Interestingly, it’s totally separated but connected artificially by a 4,500 foot causeway, so it doesn’t FEEL like you’re crossing to an island. But I think the people here take pride in it being a separate part of Nova Scotia.

  2. thesinglecell September 4, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Congrats on posting the first cell phone (?) video that didn’t make me hurl from instability, or suck from long pauses between anything slightly interesting happening. I totally heard Frenchie. Anyway, looks like a very cool trip so far. Slightly disappointed you didn’t attempt to ride one of those whales.

    • pithypants September 4, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

      You and me both. Blame Alan for halting my attempts.

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