Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Three Boats

In one short trip to Maine last week with the wife and kids, I rode in three different boats.

All of us went for a whale watching cruise in a powered boat that was maybe 75 feet long. As we cruised along out in the Atlantic ocean, one thought kept percolating up in my mind: This has got to be the most pointless thing I have ever done. We are cruising along, nothing to look at, not close enough to land to see anything interesting etc. The guide did point out the house where the actress who played the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz lived. Though, this was on the way out of the harbor and once we were out to sea there was nothing much to look at.

Even after we saw whales, it still seemed pretty much a total waste of time. We saw a group of three Minke whales and later, one Finback whale. They would all do the same thing: They would surface 3-5 times in quick succession to breathe and then dive, not to be seen again for 3-8 minutes. All you see a little bit of their back. Wow! The youngest daughter, seems to think they have a lot of personality and are, "cute". But really all I can tell is that they are large creatures that spend a lot of time uneventfully converting fish into whale.

The resort has a few canoes and kayaks that guests can use, so we thought we would try that out. I went out in a canoe with the three kids and we paddled around in the water between South Port and the mainland of Maine. The children were full of doubts about: 1. The sea worthiness of the boat. 2. My ability to navigate. 3. My ability to return them to shore without dunking them. 4. Sharks, naturally. My main concern was for my wife, who saw us leave the dock area and then paddle around a point of land and go out of her sight. Further making this hard for her was that we had planned to go around a small island in the channel and so would have come out where she could see us. When we got to the back of the "island" it turned out to be a peninsula and so we explored further along the channel before returning. This part was kind of fun. We looked at various boats anchored and discussed which one was closest to what we would want,-if we were to get a boat of our own. Intermittent fog came and went and this added a bit of charm and frisson to the event.

After an uneventful return to the dock, I switched to a kayak paddle (this has a blade on both ends)and went out on my own to explore a bit more. I had been taking it easy in the canoe because it really would have been a buzz kill to topple the boat and dunk the kids in ice-cold water. They can swim and were wearing life vests in any case but it would have been unpleasant. I went a bit further in the kayak than when we had gone in the canoe and tried to paddle hard enough to get a burn going in my arms--this takes a lot less effort than one might guess.

I think I enjoyed the paddling around far more than the whale watching--if for no other reason than that all the paddling added up to around an hour while the whale watching sucked away four hours. Plus I got a little of much needed exercise out of the paddling.