This year's Provincetown whale watch trip was delayed by poor weather on the first chosen date of April 13th. Who wants to spend 4 hours driving 200 miles just to get blown around. So, due to my work schedule, we ended up putting it off two weeks and went on April 27th. It was immediately obvious upon arrival that we made the right choice on the day as it was absolutely beautifull weather-wise. Just cool enough to keep it comfortable wearing the drysuits. Very little wind and almost no waves.
The sky was clear and Race Point Lighthouse was gleaming in the bright sunshine.
The water was calm and you could just barely see a shadowy Plymouth 19 miles away across Cape Cod Bay. No whales in sight from shore like there were last year when we arrived.
The surf was almost non-existent.
There would be nine of us paddling. The walk to the water with the boats was shorter this year as it was just a couple hours till high tide.
We loaded up the boats with our gear.
An old friend had joined us - Lora was back paddling the sea kayak instead of whitewater. Lora was just returning from shoulder surgery, so Jordan and I gave her the royal treatment with help launching and landing.
Milling around while everybody gets launched.
The plan was to head to Race Point first, where the water depth drops off steaply.
The group got a little stretched out with a group of 5 out front, Tracey and Jordan behind them and Lora and I bringing up the rear. A whale came up to Tracey's left and she SCREAMED loud and quick so everyone would have a chance to turn and spot it. I may have been the only one to catch it with the camera, but it was pretty far away. You'll have to take my word for it that it's a whale.
So everyone got out the cameras and started looking around and waiting for another whale sighting.
But all we got was fishing boat traffic for a little while. This one went by far offshore from us, headed back to the harbor.
The next one was coming out and looked like it was coming right through us for a minute, then looked like it would head between us and the shore, so we got together and moved out a little.
It did go between us and shore...
We waited and waited, occasionally wandering apart into smaller groups or breaking off alone. We were directly offshore from the Race Point Lighthouse.
The next sightings were much smaller, probably porpoises. They seemed to be in groups of 2 to 5.
This put a smile on everyone's faces as it gave us something to look for again.
The porpoises always seemed to come up behind us, but once in a while you could get a snapshot as they would surface 3 or 4 times in a row.
On the lookout again...
Hey Kris, there's one behind you!
Once in a while, you think you've spotted a porpoise and it turns out to be a bird.
Ken looks like he might have got a shot of this one.
For a while, they seemed to be all around us in a couple groups.
Steve looks like he's trying to spin around to see the one right behind him.
Abby and Steve, Team Maelstrom.
Ken's still shooting pictures, but looks like Joe is ready for lunch.
It was about 12:45 and the general consensus was to head back around the point a little to where there were practically no waves at all, near the pathway to the lighthouse, so we all headed in that direction.
There were a few 4 wheel drive vehicles out on the point. I don't recall there being any vehicles on the beach last year.
The landing was very smooth and we all got out our lunches.
Our landing spot turned out to be perfect as it was just beyond a sign banning the motorized vehicles on our section of beach.
Some of us sat and ate while others stood and ate.
While people were still finishing lunch and resting, Kris and I decided to take the short walk to the lighthouse for pictures.
There was a path for the 4x4's that we followed past the dunes.
We didn't want to keep everyone waiting, so we just took a quick walk around and snapped a bunch of pictures.
The reason everything seemed to be gleaming from the beach 2 miles away was that they were putting a fresh coat of white paint on the lighthouse.
The five bedroom keepers house can be rented for overnight stays.
The former fog signal building named the "Whistle House" has two bedrooms and can also be rented.
I'm not sure if this little building was an oil house or an outhouse.
Heading back to the beach, the ever-present Pilgrim Monument off in the distance.
A very big piece of driftwood.
Looks like a pretty serious discussion, but Abby looks very relaxed, laying on the beach, doing her Bea impression.
I noticed a piece of rope on the tree and wondered if somebody towed it ashore.
A very customized Jeep leaving the beach.
Our launch spot was visible from our lunch spot, in the distance, across Herring Cove.
Between us and the Herring Cove beach there was plenty of empty, serene beach.
Tracey is much happier as she got rid of her strangling drytop and borrowed a splash top from Lora.
The only occupants of the beaches between Race Point and Herring Cove beach were flocks of birds.
Lora and Tracey only wanted to do a short paddle, so we escorted them back to where the cars were parked and they took out and spent a couple hours on the beach with Alice while the rest of us continued on to Wood End Lighthouse to see if we could find more whales where there is another steep drop in water depth.
The water was even smoother now than when we launched in the morning. And it felt very warm in the cove to the point that we were actually hoping for a little more breeze to keep cool in all the heavy gear we were wearing.
The facilities at Herring Cove are being rebuilt further back from the water, at the bigger parking lot.
The Pilgrim Monument looks a lot closer now.
We reached our destination for this leg of the trip, Wood End Lighthouse.
No more whales to be sighted today. Not even any porpoises in this area. Just one big ship that seemed out of place to me in this part of the bay.
It was starting to get late so we turned around and headed back to the take-out.
The water was still super calm at the beach and landing was easy again.
Here is a Google Earth view of the area we paddled with our planned track in yellow and our actual GPS track shown in blue.
A few specs from the trip:
Launch time: 11:00am
Lunch at Race Point: 12:55pm Distance: 3.66 miles
Depart lunch stop: 1:46pm
Stop at Herring Cove: 2:22pm Distance: 5.17 miles
Reached Wood End: 3:28pm Distance: 7.65 miles
Take out: 4:06pm Distance: 10.32 miles
Lora and Alice carpooled with me and on the way home we stopped at Seafood Sam's in Sandwich to say hello to Briggsy and gloat a little about our day on the water. We arrived at the busiest time of the day for the restaurant but Briggsy and Deb were able to come out of the kitchen for a minute or two at a time and talk with us. Alice loved the fish on her seafood platter and will probably be making an occasional trip back across the canal for more visits this summer.
The list of paddlers for this year was myself, Lora, Jordan, Tracey, Steve, Abby, Joe, Kris and Ken W.
Thanks for a great day everyone and thanks for sharing your pictures already on the end of the trip posting at: http://wtpaddlers.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3120&start=40