Well, we didn’t originally plan to sail overnight. The ‘plan’ was to sail the 40 miles to Provincetown, MA and then another long 70 miles to Nantucket. The reason for this was driven by the desire to see whales. The Stellwagen Bank is a Marine Sanctuary for migrating whales between April and October. There are 846 square miles devoted to this sanctuary in the Massachusetts Bay. We wanted to be sure to be sailing through this area during the day so we wouldn’t miss our opportunity to see whales. The weather window was closing in on us and we wanted to be safe in the Nantucket Harbor before it changed for the worse.
As we set out from Rockport at 11:30 am after our delicious donuts and a visit with our neighbor from Halifax, we had much better wind than expected. We sailed 12 miles out of the way just to reach the Stellwagen Bank and avoid sailing directly into the wind. The wind continued to pick up and we were sailing 7+ knots. We decided to bypass Provincetown and continue overnight to Nantucket.
As we sailed several hours over the Stellwagen Bank, I sat on top of the cabin in my jacket, hood on, legs curled up and blissfully listening to my I-pod – watching for whales. Craig was watching the other side of the boat. The boat was sailing beautifully and comfortably as the sun danced in and out of the clouds. It was a perfect day.
My perfect day was made even more perfect with the eye spy of a whale waterspout shooting 10 feet into the air. “WHALE” was yelled and everyone scrambled on deck. The girls were rushing to get out and I was rushing to get in to get the camera and we formed the ultimate traffic jam falling all over each other! It was a scene right out of the Three Stooges.
We watched as the whale(s) blew several more times as we quickly altered course to get a closer look. As we approached the site of the waterspouts, we saw the whales back gently rise out of the water, flip his tail up and go back down. It was as if it was in slow motion as the gentle giant swam effortlessly. “That was sooooo Awesome!” Cheers all around as we waited for him to rise out of the water again. Then Craig yelled, “WHALE” looking in the other direction. We turned the boat again and watched another whale as he rose out of the water and dove back down with his huge tail fin disappear below the waters surface. This went on for some time, as we sailed in circles during our whale hunt! Our circled path on the chart plotter was inscribed with a “whale” notation for future reference or more importantly a permanent memory.
We probably saw a total of 6 - 8 whales that day, well worth the effort to go a little out of our way. We later learned, at the Whaling Museum in Nantucket, that the formation of his dive and the small dorsal fin on the back was that of a Humpback Whale.
As the sun set, we sailed out of whale territory and peacefully on to Nantucket. The wind eventually died and the engines had to be turned on. The gibbous moon cast a silvery shadow over the calm water with the lights of Cape Cod in the distance on our starboard side.
"Thar She Blows"
Humpback infamous dorsal fin....
back out of the water....
And then the tail.....
Another tail sliding under
Craig set the fishing pole out to catch something, anything, once the whale watching was over. Every 5 minutes, Olivia would ask if he caught a fish yet. Craig would kindly explain that she would know he caught a fish because the we would hear a "zzzzzzzzzzz" sound of the line being dragged by the fish. The line trailed behind the boat for hours until we heard the "zzzzzzzzzz". Craig jumped up, I jumped up and Liv flew out the door! Craig grabs the pole while yelling in an excited tone at me to turn into the wind to slow the boat down (that's what you do when you are sailing). No sooner did we all get into position, the line snapped. We lost our dinner and Craig lost his lure! He was sooo mad that the fish got away, but even more so that it took his expensive fishy thingy. If it was easy they would call it catching instead of fishing.
Sun going down on the high seas