Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Whale Watching? Um, no, just looking...

This past Saturday, we embarked, with Mike and Christina, on a whale watching trip. We climbed aboard the Salty Lady {that's what I said when I climbed on your mom last night! (sorry Christina)}...um, anyway... We climbed aboard the Salty Lady and headed out on an
unseasonably warm and clear Half Moon Bay February morning. (It was 8F in Pittsburgh, making the 60+ weather that much more enjoyable! Hee hee!)

The sea was angry that day, my friends, as we headed out over the crashing waves. Like an old man trying to send back soup at a deli. (OK, "gently rolling swell" may be a better description.)

Anyway, we headed out on our whale watching trip, excited to catch a glimpse of the humpback and gray whales that were spotted the weekend prior. Luckily, Jay brought along his GPS to chronicle the longitude and latitude of each and every sighting.

As you can see on the map, we took a heading of SSW at about 12 mph (or about 10.4 knots, for the sailors out there) and basically never touched the wheel. We went straight and never made even a slight bank left or right. As the passengers searched for life, we finally (after and hour and a half of our three hour trip) slowed to check out the seagulls, murres, and comorants.) Gee, that's fantastic. Weren't those the same birds we saw at the dock?

Anyway, the "guide" mentioned something about "abundant sea life" and "schools of sardines below us," but because those sardines weren't Wonder Twins and didn't form "the shape of a breaching whale," we didn't see nothing.

So, the Salty Lady turned around, and full-steamed it back to the dock. Yeah, we made a nice figure-eight on the way back. But, basically, it was 90 minutes straight out at SSW, and 90 minutes straight back at NNE.

What did we see? A few birds. A few chunks of seaweed. A lot of water.

Our whale watching trip was not to be. Our whale looking-for trip was, unfortunately.

Check out the photos, below, but please don't look for whales. They must have been off that day. :-(

Alas, there were no whales to be watched...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl or Super BOAT?

Two events happened today: one big, one HUGE.

Obviously, today was the Super Bowl, and, although the Steelers weren't involved, apparently it was a big deal. We're not sure why, but we don't question tradition.

The other event was the arrival of the Queen Mary 2 in San Francisco - a "maritime marvel!". This may sound ho-hum to most of you, but listen to this: The Queen Mary 2 is the largest ship to EVER pass through the Golden Gate! Now that's worthy of missing a few quarters of football, don't you think?

Well, we did. So, with an expected "under the bridge" time of 3:00 PM Pacific Time (27 minutes before kickoff), we figured that we'd hurry down to Crissy Field and snap a few pictures. But, we were totally unprepared for the thousands - yes, thousands - of spectators waiting around the bay.

Here in Frisco, "Fleet Week" is usually the biggest spectator event, followed by the Independence Day fireworks. But, this rivaled both of those, for sure. We were in traffic from 2:30 through 3:00 (and we started 2 miles from Crissy Field!), but luckily the QM2 was about one hour late (um, 33 minutes after kickoff). So, we were well-positioned to watch as it sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge with only 30 feet to spare! That's amazing! These photos don't do it justice, however. Although it looked big as it went under the bridge, our vantage point was a bit askew. As it passed us, however, its ominous size was apparent. It dwarfed the sailboats, fire boats, and Coast Guard ships that escorted it into the bay. It was a sight to behold, for sure.

For more details, and to read about it's 'round-the-globe trip (last stop was Alcapulco, next stop is Honolulu), check out this story and this story and accompanying photos at The Chronicle.

(Kinda makes our kayaks seem itty bitty...)