(originally published on November 16, 2012)
Brave and Bold Week comes to an end with one more story of bravery ...
I love whales. I love whales so much that I went on a three day sleep at sea trip on a no frills fishing vessel to do nothing other than watch whales! Offered through the Coastal and Research and Education Society of Long Island, the trip left from Montauk but also picked up passengers on Martha's Vineyard. At midnight. Which I thought was a perfectly fine idea when I booked the trip.
To make the connection I took the boat from Boston to Ptown the night before and stayed at my mom's. My sister and brother-in-law happened to be leaving the next day so they dropped me off in Hyannis in the morning so I could take the ferry to the Vineyard. I ended up booking a room for the night just so I had a home base and a place to take a shower (and sleep if there ended up being an issue.)
Around midnight, I found myself standing in the dark on the dock with two other people waiting for the boat to pick us up. It was one of those moments when I really asked myself what the hell I was doing. And then, like a, um ... Viking Starship, the boat arrived, lights blazing in the darkness.
There were only three bunks left for us and I got the last one, right next to the beer. Even though it was stormy and I ended up airborne a few times throughout the night, I slept well. Until a voice came over the loudspeaker announcing that we had arrived in the Great South Channel and that a pod of dolphins was off our starboard bow.
I immediately jumped off my bunk, put on some appropriate attire, and ran up to the deck. I missed the dolphins but I did get to see this sunrise!
To give you a sense of just how utilitarian the boat was, let me share some photos. This is the top deck where we all spent a good portion of our time. It was pretty chilly (although it was August) so I found myself needing to move down to the main deck a lot.
Most of the hardcore photographers hung out on the bow. Every time a whale would surface, those cameras went into highspeed mode. Click, click, click, click, click!
When you needed a break or had to charge your camera battery, there were seats inside. Some people even SLEPT in their seats the whole trip. And at night, the whiskey and cards came out. There's not much else to do when you are bobbing around in the dark on a boat like this.
The food was pretty amazing! I have no idea how the chef was able to create what he did using the minimal equipment on board. We had to eat in shifts and one night I shared a meal with the provost of a university on Long Island. Here's the eating area.
My breakfast sandwich one morning.
The man in the hat with his back to us is Carl Safina. He is one of my heroes! I had no idea he would be on this trip and he wasn't there as an expert. He was there as a passenger just like me. He spent a lot of time writing on his laptop, clearly working on his next manuscript.
Oh, yes, there were whales! Even when it was too dark or foggy to see them you could hear them exhaling all around the boat. It was so amazing. And we did get to see breaching!
And a million, gazillion birds.
One of the other things to do at night, after we set anchor, was to do some fishing. The crew pulled up some big ones!
One of the things I liked so much was the changing sky. Isn't this gorgeous?
And the water is different out there. The swells are big and further apart. I found myself mesmerized watching it rise and fall.
This is my favorite photo of the whole trip! It captures what it felt like most of the time. Surreal and beautiful. Calm and stunning.
So, everyone, that's it for Brave and Bold Week. I'm in California until Sunday so I'm not sure when the next post will be. You can always follow my adventures on Instagram here, I'm more likely to be posting there for now.