I figure since more and more non-locals are sneaking views on my blog and website who are making plans to come to Newburyport; it might be a good thing to give some tips on things to do and enjoy in our area.
So let’s first cover how to enjoy a whale watch!
Okay, let’s just lay out the simple facts. Whale watching tours are a for profit operation, charity for a whale watching tour is giving some monetary tips to the crew: your charity, their pocket. Consequently, there are some things that they are not going to tell you. But, often, it’s those things you need to know if you want to enjoy the maximum benefit out of the trip.
First of all, parking issues. It used to be, that in the area that is near the Plum Island Coffee Roasters just beyond the Black Cow; there would be designated areas for whale boat parking. As New England Development begins to make its move; those days are done. Now you need to make a choice. You can park out on the street for free (if you’re lucky) or park in the paid parking areas – making sure you have paid enough to cover your trip. Of course, most locals have permit parking stickers; and if you know a local or are staying with someone; the best way is to car pool down together. Free is always best.
Second, I don’t care that eggs are frying on the boardwalk, bring a winter coat. Seasoned watchers of Wicked Tuna, may think their watching a fisherman’s tale based on the Bearing Sea in Alaska. Sorry, those boys are fishing just off our coast! I don’t care if you feel foolish or embarrassed; grit your teeth; endure the mockery and take the heavy things on the boat. You’ll be glad you did! The North Atlantic is what you are facing and it may be 93 degrees at the docks, it could be 60 degrees out there – and your summer clothes will make you feel like your naked in February.
Second, bring Dramamine. The whale boat operators will try to avoid taking passengers out on rough seas but you never know the final conditions – plus you may not know, until too late that your stomach has an issue out at sea. Remember, the whole point of the trip is to ENJOY. Vomiting over the side is not achieving that goal.
Third, take the second tour for the day. That is, if they are offering two trips in a day. Whales are often busy fishing and doing the work of survival in the early part of the day. In the latter part, they are know a bunch of belly filled happy campers. They may get frisky and breach (the ultimate goal to see of all whale watchers*); or they may just lay about, opening and closing their mouths, playing with their calves and eyeing up the tourists. There is nothing like looking into those lenses of seafaring knowledge.
Fourth and final, don’t ruin your trip out of singlemindedness. I recently posted as an example about visitors to the Arkansas Diamond Mine and how diggers were throwing out semi-precious stones by the droves in their vain search for one diamond. It is the same way with a whale tour. There are odd birds, seals, sharks, turtles, dolphins, porpoises (some of them doing spectacular acrobatics without the benefit of a trainer) and sun fishes, etc. You may encounter a giant fish factory out there, or trawlers. But, you may be on one of those odd whale boat excursions where they can’t find a single whale. So big deal; instead of demanding your money back – enjoy the entire show. I tell you every trip will be memmorable.
And finally, the Newburyport Whale Watch has violated the rules of “The Curse” by aggressively advertising on Groupon. You get a great discount by doing so and it gives them great Internet exposure. In fact, the other whale boat companies have to give bigger discounts, because they are so jealous. So sorry! (not really)
PS. It’s taken a while but it is finally catching on that the Newburyport Whale Watch is the best choice in the region. Jeffrey’s Ledge is just off the Merrimack River’s mouth. A journey from our docks is the shortest journey for the biggest buck. The Ledge is basically an island that has not breached the surface. Deep nutrients are driven up by the current to the surface and the shrimp feast on this material in great numbers allowing the whales without having to dive deep or make extra effort, obtain great numbers with their straining mouths. Other whale boats can either go far out to sea to other areas of similar conditions or they make their way to ‘our’ ledge. Save money, save time and take ‘our’ boat.
* Unless you are in a tiny row boat in Mexico when one breaches next to you! What a way to die!