When Craig and I were doing our research into things we could do in Victoria during the winter season, we were quite disappointed to find out that the whale watching tours wouldn't be running. So, when we stumbled across a company that appeared to be running whale watching tours, we were delighted and signed up immediately.
So on our appointed day, we went off to the offices of the company. First thing on the list was to sign our waivers...just in case of death and injury and all that fun stuff. Then we waited for a while, and chatted to the other passengers. It was a mark of how much the olympics were gearing up that about half the group was in Vancouver in some Olympic capacity. There were two cops from Toronto, and two Swiss guys who worked for Omega.
So once everyone arrived, we all went to get suited up. Since we were all going out on a large Zodiac, we needed to wear these incredibly sexy giant bouyant suit things, in which we boiled and couldn't bend properly. Fun!
And here's me demonstrating the stylish newer version of the suit. As on as put them on, you'd start sweating and wanting to take them off...but they really came in useful later.
And here's Craig demonstrating his older model suit. After we were all suited up, we got on board the boat. The guide warned us, if you have back problems, don't sit on the front row, so Craig took the front with the two police officers, and I was behind him with the Swiss guys. The guide had said, "the front's pretty bumpy, but you probably won't get as wet", but what he didn't mention was that anyone sitting on the side was going to get soaked.
We enjoyed a very pleasant ride out of the harbour, with not too much bumpiness or splashes. It was very nice to be out in the sea air. We wound around the coastline, dropping into little bays to look at the wild life which included these cuties
We also saw some bald eagles, but unfortunately didn't get too many good photos. When we left the nice little bay where we'd watched the eagles and seals, it started to get really bumpy, and really wet! This was also when we discovered that those sitting on the sides got really wet and cold. We were most glad for the suits then!
Probably the best sight of the trip was a big family of sea lions. They were sitting on a rocky outcrop near Race Island (which nutters dive on, despite the incredibly dangerous currents...the island was named because of the way the currents "race" past). They took a slight dislike to the boat when it stopped nearby, and then just suddenly piled into the water. It was amazing to watch, since usually when we saw sealions in NZ they were sleepy and rarely noticed our existence.
By this point in the tour we were starting to get a bit tired, as holding on with all your might can be a mite draining on the arms! Around Race Rocks, where we spent a fair bit of time zooming about, the water looked like this:
So, landing on top of those in zodiac can be a bit bumpy, and going through those in a zodiac can get a bit wet. All in good fun though. When we got back to Victoria, we were compared levels of soaked-ness. Because Craig and I both sat on the sides, we both got soaked, as often enough, the waves went straight down the front of our suits.
As we were all getting de-suited, the two cops who were sitting with Craig were comparing the degrees of being soaked. Craig was saying how wet he'd got, and the man he was sitting next to goes "oh, I didn't get wet at all, just splashed in the face". His poor partner, who'd been sitting on his other side was utterly and completely soaked, and looked rather miserable, and like she wished she carried her gun all the time while her partner was standing there all warm and dry joking about a little splash in the face. The poor Swiss guys just looked a little shellshocked by the whole experience.
And boy, did we feel it when we staggered out of bed the next day! Carrying our backpacks on the trip back to Vancouver sure was fun.
But would I do it again? Totally...if I can have some whales next time!