Its a Beautiful Day on Stellwagan Banks

Sun, Seas and Stellwagan BanksWhale Tail

Taking advantage of  a beautiful day I climbed aboard another Captain John Boats Whale Watching Tour to Stellwagan bank. I’ve had a tough time seeing Breaching whales when I’ve gone out. They seem to come around  on every trip except the one I’m on! Very frustrating! The trips have been good. There are whales every time but not doing really exciting behaviors.

View from the BowWhere to ride? Top deck or bottom?

I’ve been riding the top deck thinking I’d get a better angle for my photos. The problem is that if I’m on the right, the whales are on the left. Ugh! It’s just the luck of the draw. Usually when the whales show up on one side, everyone runs across to that side of the boat. I’ve stopped doing that. But today I think I have a solution.

I’m King of the World

I grabbed the middle seat in the front row on deck one. This is right at the bow. I can run out to the tip of the bow and watch the whales on the right, left and front. About the only view I don’t have here is off the stern. I made myself comfortable for the hour and a half ride to Stellwagan Bank National Marine Sanctuary,

 Gurnet Light

WOW A 10- Plus Plus Plus tripWhales slpashing a boat

The first whales we found were doing “close ups” for another Whale Watching ship. There were a lot of small fishing boats in the area too. As we approached a whale did a full body breach right next to us. Of course I missed it.  I only saw the splash. The next breach practically landed on one of the fishing boats. There were flipper slaps and tail breaches and multiple body breaches! It was during all this activity that I managed to catch a full body breach. We’d only just begun and the trip was already a winner.


Breaching Whale

A Disappointing Truth

Egret with a hot dog

Hungry Egret with Hot Dog, Gatorland, Orlando FL

Sometimes the Truth Hurts

When I learned this secret truth I felt so let down! As an amateur photographer my favorite subjects are animals. (They don’t complain about how they look.) I can spend hours pouring over books with animal photos. I love National Geographic shots. Although I know I will never be that good, I still use them for inspiration.

Nat Geo Photography Specials

Red Fox 2016

Red Fox , Audubon Sanctuary

I watch all of the Nat Geo specials especially the ones about how they got the shot. They always show the poor photographer trudging through the rain forest or freezing in the Arctic while they search for another iconic photograph worthy of a National Geographic publication. The photo magazines are full of trips and tours with (drum roll please) National Geographic Photographers! Take our trip and you too will learn to take worthy photographs.



White Tiger

White Tiger , Southwick Zoo

The Sad Truth about many animal photos

So it was a real let down when I spotted in the tiny print at the bottom of the credits a disclaimer. It said photo taken at XYZ Zoo! What!  Sure enough. Credits include zoos, sanctuaries, and preserves. Of course some are legitimate but far more than I expected are in controlled environments.

endangered gray wolfIf They Can so can I

With my new knowledge I looked into wolves. I’d love to get a great photo of a wolf. I’m sure that even if I go to Yellowstone any wolves will be too far away for a great photo. So my search began and I located the Lakota Wolf Preserve in New Jersey. I was so excited. This was a couple of years ago. They recommended a winter shoot when the fur is thick and photogenic. I immediately booked a shoot in February. It was snowed out. Then we got ice. In the end I didn’t get there but it’s on my bucket list.

Think Local

That’s why I was thrilled to hear about a wolf sanctuary right here in my homeWolves in winter state of Massachusetts. Located in Ipswich, MA I can’t wait to check it out. Its called Wolf Hollow and they have photo shoots too. You can be sure you’ll be hearing more about this place as soon as I can get a day to drive up there! Stay tuned.

Its Breaching Whales and Hungry Sharks

The Whales are Breaching!

Breaching Whale off Cape Cod

Breaching Humpback Whale Stellwagen bank 2016

Last year was the first time I ever saw a whale breach here in New England. I’ve see lots of other behaviors but I always thought breaching was only in Maui, HI or Alaska. So with that in mind I went to Alaska but no breaching there. Finally last winter I spotted a breaching calf. A 2000 lb baby was leaping for joy. It was dawn and the day was still very gray. A good picture but not what I’ve been envisioning. My quest continues.

Breaching Humpback Calf

Breaching humpback calf in Maui, HI 2017

They were Breaching before my tour and after

I follow Captain John Boats on Facebook and all season I’ve been seeing posts about breaching whales on their tours. I finally got out on a tour last week but as you know from my last post, no breaching. In fact, right after my tour, there is was! Another post about a breaching whale. I know they aren’t trained performers but just the law of averages seem to favor my chances. How is it that I keep missing this amazing behavior?

Up the Stakes for a Trip that will be hard to top!

As I was sulking over my continued misses the Whale Watching trip to beat all whale watching trips hit my feed. How about whales and sharks? Yup, a recent trip delivered on the whales and then found a whale that had recently died from entanglement injuries. According to the news report it was a dead minke whale. Its always sad to see an animal that has died but nature is very harsh. But this time the passengers got to see how nature recycles. The death of one animal sustains another. What was being sustained this time? 2 Great White Sharks, that’s what!

Great White Shark

It’s Shark Week on Cape Cod

This is amazing. There is a tour company that advertises great white viewing but the folks on this whale watching trip never expected to to see a shark. This tour would be off the chart if you rated it. It delivered everything advertised and then dished up 2 great white sharks. What I would have given to be on that trip! Rating 10 +++++++ Way to go Captain John Boats!

Great White photo provided by Google Search

Captain John and the Whales

Captain John’s Whale WatchingWhale Tail

Captain John Boats lives in Plymouth, MA and sails the seas of Massachusetts Bay and Stellwagen Banks. Why, Matey? What does the Captain John do on the bay? We be lookin’ for whales. Mostly humpback whales but also finbacks and minkes. So come on board and let me tell you a “tail” of the sea.

Whale Watching in Massachusetts

Summertime on the Massachusetts coast means whales. The evening news happily reports when the first whales of the season begin to arrive along Cape Cod. The first are usually the rare right whales. We watch them from the shore. We recognize them by their distinctive wide V-shaped blow. All the while we watch we also freeze in the early spring blustery cold.

Whale TailWith Warmer Weather come the Tours

As the weather warms the Right whales move out and the Humpbacks, Finbacks and Minkes take their place. I’ve followed the whales for 43 years through good years and bad. South of Boston there are 3 main tour companies, Boston’s New England Aquarium, Captain John Boats in Plymouth and the Dolphin Fleet out of Provincetown. It doesn’t seem to matter which one you take, they all seem to end up at Stellwagen Bank within sight of each other and the Pilgrim Tower in Provincetown.

A Whale of a Trip

Last Saturday I finally had a free afternoon. I usually prefer the morning trip out of Plymouth with Captain John. I seem to have better luck on those tours but this time I couldn’t get away until the 2 pm tour. We no sooner reached the feeding grounds of Stellwagen Banks than 3 humpbacks sounded right next to the boat. They stayed close for 3-4 dives before moving out.  We had several other humpbacks cruise along with the boat and then one tried to ride our bow! It was a very active trip and the passengers were really excited.

Riding a bow wave

Rate the Trip

If this was your first trip it was a definite 10. There were lots of whales and lots of activity. For a more experienced whale watcher it might have been a bit of a let down. There were no flipper slaps, bubble net or surface feeding, or breaches but some lovely flukes…a 5. I am so spoiled!

Gurnet Light

Gurnet Light

So Where’s the Adventure Part?

The Adventure is in the TreesRope bridge

The Heritage Forest Adventures is fun for all ages, or so they tell me. I didn’t get there this trip. My adventure would have been surviving the traffic exodus leaving “The Cape” if I didn’t leave by 3 pm. But I did find someone who has been to the Adventure Park.

What is involved?

4 beautiful acres are filled with aerial trails as well as traditional foot paths. This park is geared to all ages and abilities. Take to the trees to clamor over platforms made of rope, cable and wood configurations. Then clip your harness to the zip line and fly through the forest. Each of the “bridges” presents a different challenge. My friend says it’s great fun but that her arms were sore for days after she went. What a work out!

a barrel bridgeThere are 5 different trails ranging from beginner to advanced, all color coded to make following them easy.

If you’re like me and need to keep your feet on the ground, there are paths and trails. You can get your heart stopping thrills while watching those in the trees.

Why an Adventure Park?

The Heritage Park’s mission is to inspire people to explore, discover and learn together. The adventure park encourages visitors and families to discover the outdoors and  engage in family fun. The trails and challenges encourage our young people to move more, improving their physical skills. 

Open air underfoot

What you need to Know if you go.

You don’t need reservations for the Gardens and Museum grounds but they are recommended for the Adventure Park.

Tickets for The Adventure Park are $45 for Adults (12+), $39 for ages 10-11, $34 for ages 7-9.

Combo tickets that include The Adventure Park and all of Heritage’s other offerings are $55 Adults (12+), $44 ages 10-11, $39 ages 7-9; combination tickets can be purchased at both the Heritage ticket office and at The Adventure Park.

All tickets will also be charged a $1 reservation fee.

Only those climbing need to pay the admission fee.  Those walking the Forest Walk or grounds do not pay admission.

The minimum age to climb is 7 yrs. old and there is no maximum age.  Courses are designed for all ages and abilities!  There is a maximum weight limit and that is 265 lbs.

Heritage Museums and Gardens are located at 67 Grove St, Sandwich, MA 02563

If you go I’d love to hear from you! I want to know what it was like!