Thursday, June 06, 2002

Pirates and Whales!

We got up at 7:30 and headed straight to Harwich Port to catch the ferry For some inexplicable reason, Dan tried a different route than the one we had used the day, and we were briefly lost, but we got to the ferry in plenty of time anyway. Once there, we discovered that the price was $43 per person-- much higher than the ferries in Hyannis, which charge $27. When Dan had called about ferry hours, he had neglected to ask prices. We considered going anyway, but $86 for the two of us seemed pretty steep, just to get to the island and back and not accounting for any spending we might do while there. So we got back in the car and headed toward Hyannis. On the way though, we changed our minds about the whole adventure. It seemed like a hassle, and we both hate Hyannis. So we went to the Brewster General Store for coffee, pastries and a little reflection. After some consideration, we decided to go whale watching out of Provincetown instead.

In Provincetown, we found parking and walked to the wharf. There was a Dolphin Fleet boat scheduled to go out at 12:30, so we bought tickets and then tried to decide what to do for an hour while we waited. At the end of the pier was a pirate museum containing treasure from the pirate ship Whydah. This seemed like a good bet, so we went and checked it out. The exhibits were interesting and there was a lot of information on the recovery and restoration of the ship's artifacts.

After we toured the museum (it was rather small), we still had a little time, so we went into town and got some coffee. We sat outside and watched people go by, which is usually a lot of fun in Provincetown, but for whatever reason, several schools had decided to take their students on a field trip that day, and there were pre-teens running around everywhere. We were glad enough to finally get on the boat at noon and settle in. As we boarded, we were warned that the seas were rough, and we were advised to help ourselves to the free Dramamine at the snack counter. I considered it, but have never been prone to seasickness and decided I didn't want to take anything that might make me sleepy.

Dan and I settled ourselves on a bench on deck, sheltered from the rain a bit. I thought at first that I'd be able to tolerate the wind and cold, but about 20 minutes out, I decided that until we came within sight of whales, there was no point in freezing, so I went inside. A few minutes later, Dan followed me in. He was just in time, because no sooner had he settled in beside me at the front of the heated cabin, when a huge wave crashed over the side of the boat, dousing everyone on the bench we had been sitting on just moments earlier. After we had been out for maybe 45 minutes, we saw a finback whale. Dan went outside to see it, but I stayed in and tried to get a few pictures of it. Then we didn't see anything else for a long time. A few people caught sight of some spouts in the distance, but we were unable to catch up with any actual whales, leading the guide to believe that we had seen the spouts of right whales, which are notoriously shy and can dive for hours.

Finally after nearly three hours on the water, we came upon a humpback that stayed by the boat long enough to surface several times so we could see it. The last time, it did a complete dive, raising its fluke into the air as it did so. It was so unexpected and beautiful that I didn't want to ruin the moment by fussing with my camera, so unfortunately I didn't get a picture of it.

After that, we headed back to port. We were a long way out, and it took about an hour. The seas were a little calmer now, since we were no longer moving against the wind and tides, but it was too late for a lot of people to avoid being sick. I had never seen so much seasickness before-- people everywhere were hunched over paper bags, if they could get one open in time. A custodian with a mop took care of the ones who didn't have bags. The seas were really rough that day though, with waves going completely over the bow at some points, so I wasn't put off by it all. Dan and I later learned that the boat that had gone out before us had hit a hard wave around noon, and 18 people were injured, 3 with broken bones. Luckily, nothing so dramatic happened to us, although there were a few fools who stood outside without holding onto anything and got knocked around a bit.

Back on shore, we decided that a snack was in order, so we headed into town. We went to the Lobster Pot, where I warmed up with a delicious lobster chowder and cup of tea. Then we walked around a bit, browsing the shops and taking in the street scene. It was after 5:00 by now though, and a lot of places were closing.

We headed back toward home and checked out three of the beaches in the area known as the Brewster Flats. Then, since no evening would be complete for Dan without a sunset at Corporation, we went to his favorite beach for one last look from the jetty. Then we headed over to Brax for dinner, where the dark dining room made me feel inexplicably as if I were back on the whale watching boat. If I closed my eyes, I thought I could actually feel the room sway.

After a nice dinner of salmon (I was tired of local fish by this point), we headed home, getting in just before a thunderstorm hit. Cozy in our cottage, we turned in early after packing a bit, to minimize work the next day.

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