Thursday, June 29, 2006

Whale watching

As you know, I am scared of water. I almost drowned as a kid and ever since I have had a fear of being in water over my head. In fact, I much prefer taking showers over baths because I don’t even want to sit in the stuff. Whenever I fly, as the plane is rolling down the runway, I always ask God for one simple request…if He is going to allow the plane to crash, please let it crash on land because I don’t want to die in the water. My wife would love to take a cruise. I just hope she enjoys the trip by herself.

Yet, in spite of my fear, Laura and I went on a whale watching excursion while we were in Maine recently. We boarded the Harbor Princess in beautiful Boothbay Harbor. The very first thing I noticed was that there were only two small life rafts on top of this boat. I quickly estimated that each of these could sit no more than 6-8 people for a total of 12-16 spaces in case of an emergency. I immediately begin to count heads on the boat. There were easily 40-50 people or more. Suddenly the most haunting words I could imagine hearing were, “women and children first!”

I’ll admit it. I was nervous. If I would have known at the outset that this boat ride would venture 23 miles away from land (I mean you couldn’t see any sign of land) out into the Atlantic Ocean and end up in water that was over 500 feet deep, I don’t think I would have ever went on board. In fact, my heart rate went up when I read at the ticket counter that the trip was a 3-4 hour tour. Wasn’t that the scheduled length of the boat ride on the S.S. Minnow before the weather started getting rough and the tiny ship got tossed right onto Gilligan’s Island?

To my amazement, 30 minutes into the trip I was not feeling at all seasick. In fact, I even went below to the galley to grab a couple of hot dogs for us. I soon discovered that there is a big difference between sitting on the boat and trying to walk up and down steps while carrying hotdogs (one of which I dropped…but ate anyway). Now I had to concentrate on not getting sick. Just as I was feeling better, a girl tossed her cookies all down the steps behind where I was sitting. Now it was time to concentrate once again.

But it was all worth it when along with the seals and porpoises we got to watch two very large humpback whales playing in the wide open of the ocean. They would surface and blow water from their spouts and then start to dive, leaving only their large black and white tales sticking up out of the water. I loved it. In fact, I would do it again. Who knows, maybe there is a cruise in my future?

When we got back to the dock, I felt like kneeling down and kissing the ground but I refrained so as not to embarrass my wife. After all, she was the reason I swallowed my fear and took the excursion. And I have to admit…it was well worth the $70 it cost me for us to have this memory builder together. But I do have one complaint. After being out on the ocean for 4 hours, my body swayed back and forth all night long. But that was okay…by that time I had gotten pretty good at concentrating.

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