Having lived in Southern
California all my life (30 of them,
right here in
Ventura), it took an invitation from my mother-in-law to lead us to one
of our greatest family outings.
It started out on an overcast summer morning, the whale watching trip booked, the crew preparing the 64-foot catamaran for departure, my thoughts were racing: Do the kids have enough sunscreen? What if we don’t see any whales? Were we in for a 3-hour tour aboard the “S.S. I’m bored” with no escape? And, then, the flashback: me, clinging with my six-grade classmates on our way to Catalina, our nauseous stomachs rising and falling with each swell. Were we about to subject our kids to the same fate? Boy was I wrong.
watched our wake stretch further from the shore, all my
worries vanished with the cool ocean breeze. From this new vantage
point, I saw, I mean really saw, Ventura as if
for the first time.
Seeing this coastal town nestled between rolling foothills and the sea, I found myself marveling over the town’s historic evolution since the Chumash occupied the area, hunting, gathering, trading shell beads and swiftly traversing between the mainland and islands in 30’ plank canoes made of driftwood.
I’ll never forget the way my heart thudded in my chest at the sight of a Humpback whale appearing suddenly full breach in front of the bow, signaling to us that we were about to cross its path. Known as “ballerinas of the sea”, the Humpback slipped gracefully back into the water among an excited rush of “oohs and ahhs.”
The sight brought everyone forward and we waited together, mesmerized, for our next chance to see a whale. Since humpbacks travel in groups of 1 to 10, each blowing up to 10 feet in the air, and 4 to 8 times between dives, our chances were good. We were not disappointed.
What to bring?
- Sweater or light jacket (it can be chilly).
- Sea sick medicine (for some of us), which is available at the gift shop (actually, my mother-in-law swears by ginger ale and I have to admit it worked for us).
Food is available on the boat but you can brown bag it for a less expensive option.