A chance meeting with a couple in the Laundromat on Wednesday led us to the town of Eastport on Thursday. And while Eastport was a blip on our radar to visit before leaving we had not expected our day trip to involve whale watching.
Eastport is another in a long line of quaint lobstering villages found Down East. However, it will stand out in my mind as the most picturesque with a historic main street lined with cafes, gift shops and art galleries.
After lunch on the harbor we located the Sylvinia Beal, a two masted schooner built in the early 1900s and my transportation for the afternoon.. D opted out on the trip; his history of seasickness keeping him landlocked. I have to admit that I boarded the Sylvinia Beal with cautious optimism, after all our moose expedition in Millinocket had been a bust. But I soon relaxed, determined to enjoy the afternoon with or without Moby Dick.
Our route took us along side Campobello Island and we spotted bald eagles soaring overhead and a couple of sea lions playing in a bay. All too far away for pictures, but thrilling to watch non-the-less.
As we approached East Quoddy headlight it didn’t take long for one of the crew to point out a baby Miensk whale off to our port side. We joined a handful of other vessels of varying sizes and shapes and the fun began.
If you have never heard it I can’t explain the whish that fills the air when one of these amazing creatures surfaces and purges the water from his blowhole. And the sight of those waterspouts is amazing.
What also amazed me was the close proximity of the whales to the boats. At one point we were all watching an overturned kayak off in the distance when “whish” a Hump Back had surfaced just 8 feet off the other side of the boat startling and thrilling all aboard. You just never knew where they would appear.
We saw mostly fin back whales and hump backs. At times the sea was calm and then suddenly they would begin to pop up all around. At one point I think I counted five on the surface at one time.
My photos do not do justice to this amazing afternoon and those magnificent mammals. Their size is beyond comprehension, especially when you consider that we never saw the entire length of the whale out of the water at one time. We might see 18 or 20 feet of back including the dorsal fin, never the head. And those awesome Hump Backs would suddenly breach, with an arch in their back that meant only one thing. A deep dive was coming and the appearance of the flukes, a hint at the power contained in the tail.
We ended our day at West Quoddy Headlight just as the sun dipped behind the hills. West Quoddy sits on the eastern most point in the U.S.; the first place to see the sun rise each morning.