Whale Tails and Eagle Wings

Whale-watching was scheduled for 1:00 on Saturday, so after a late brunch on the WaCo Diner patio, we headed to the pier. Unfortunately, the tall, several-masted windjammer that once hosted this tour met its final match in a storm a few years back. We would be boarding a modern, streamlined power boat. “Boat” is a blunt word compared to “windjammer” and much less historic, but we still had a grand tour.

At some point in my childhood (Miss Horton’s 4th grade class at Central Elementary maybe?) I had to memorize John Masefield’s poem Sea Fever. Over the years, lines from it always come to mind when I have the good fortune to spend time at water’s edge or on it. Fairhope, Destin, Gulf Shores. San Francisco, Vancouver, Montreal, Savannah, Boston, and so on.

The water calls and calms.

Water is essential to life. First, that’s a scientific fact. A person can live for a while without food or shelter (or maybe love?) but cannot survive nearly as long without water. Second, most people I know and have known harbor a fascination with water, of needing to, as John Masefield put it, go down to the seas again. There is something about water in nature that calls and calms us.

Our Saturday afternoon weather was blue-sky gorgeous as we set out across Passamaquoddy Bay and into the Bay of Fundy. And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying, and the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying. Before long, our enthusiastic guide was shouting things like “whale at ten o’clock” or “porpoises at three o’clock,” and there they were. You’ll have to take my word for it because my phone was never fast enough to capture the images, but we did see spouts and tails and gracious leaps as we meandered in and out of American and Canadian waters. Whenever we turned north very far, distinctly cooler breezes had us grabbing our jackets. …the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife….

The icing on the tour came when we were encouraged to look closely into the treetops along several small islands. And there they were—numerous bald eagles roosting on high branches and even spreading wide wings to soar above and across in front of us.

In Sea Fever, Masefield wrote about hearing a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover on his ship. Our laughing “rover” was our guide who entertained us with his own yarns—lots and lots of them. As we headed back towards Eastport, he told tales about the colorful buoys that bob on the surface and mark the location of lobster traps. “Each lobster crew has its own distinct color or colors, and everyone knows not to mess with another crew’s traps.” The boat slowed, and a crew member brought up a trap marked by a brilliant orange buoy. He withdrew a healthy lobster and carefully taped its claws, then passed it around for brave, non-squeamy people like my son and my grandson to hold and examine.

Our guide began yet another tale: “We once had a woman on our tour who was some kind of avid animal advocate, and she was quite upset that we were cleverly trapping poor lobsters. In fact, she got so upset that she grabbed the lobster I was holding, with his claws taped tight, and threw him over the bow and back into the bay.” She was even more upset when I calmly explained to her that she had just murdered that lobster herself because, with his claws taped, he would not last long.”

We finished off our day with dinner at The Happy Crab where the crab burger with sweet potato fries was delicious. My grandson was amused at the dollar bills tacked all over the ceiling of the dining room and decided to add his own to the collection. He got a tack from the cashier and, at 6’4” or so, had little trouble reaching up and adding his own to the collection.

Then we really finished off our day when we discovered the ice cream shop on Water Street as we strolled back to Bunting Tosser. This was ice cream at its finest, especially the wild Maine blueberry flavor.

A day well spent.

%d bloggers like this: