Although I’ve lived on the West Coast my entire life, I’d never been whale watching before last week. It was one of those activities that I always wanted to try and yet, I never did because I felt strange going by myself and it had never been on the list of things to do for friends or relatives who visited my family.
This all changed with a wonderful trip with Eagle Wing Tours here in Victoria. Not only was the day that I chose to go gorgeous, warm and sunny without a cloud in the sky; Eagle Wing also went a long way to changing my perception of whale watching tours.
Although I’d always wanted to try whale watching, I always felt a certain amount of apprehension about them. Everything I’d seen on TV or magazines made it seem like every whale watching company used the Zodiac boats that made for a very bumpy and wet ride and you had to have good balance in order to stand or sit in them. I was worried that I’d either get sick from the bumpiness or fall overboard due to my lack of balance.
But Eagle Wing changed all that, starting with their boats. The trip I took was on the MV Gold Wing, a 60-foot long passenger boat designed to hold approximately 26 people. It had comfortable bench seating and even an on-board washroom facility. Eagle Wing goes the extra mile for its guests, not only providing heavy warm jackets that double as life jackets and pants to protect against the cold spray of the water, but blankets, binoculars, sunscreen, hats, gloves and even sunglasses-anything and everything you’d need for any whale watching trip.
Eagle Wing’s captain Jeff and crew mate Lana made everyone feel welcome and turned what was a good trip into a great trip with jokes and conversation that put me at ease, personally. And the way that Gold Wing skimmed over the surface of the water, occasionally bouncing on top of the waves was exhilarating; it was the best ride of my life.
We made it to Trial Island, south of Oak Bay where I managed to get some great shots of harbor seals on the rocks and a pigeon guillemot.
Next were the Chain Islands, home of harbor seals, ducks and cormorants; where I snapped some of the best photos I’ve ever taken.
We caught the trail of a pod of transient orcas somewhere in between Oak Bay and Sidney and managed to see them hunting harbor seals around Dock Island.
We followed them into the Sidney Channel and the Sidney Spit before being surprised by them as they popped up just in front of the bow of the boat.
Before leaving, we managed to see them surface one last time and as we turned back for the return trip to Fisherman’s Wharf, we bounced higher on the waves as Gold Wing skimmed the surface.
Overall, it was an amazing experience that I can’t wait to have again. Thanks to Jeff, Lana and Chris for giving me this opportunity to experience everything whale watching has to offer!