The first hour aboard the Pink Lady II. Skies were clear with a wind blowing in from the east, or possibly the north, at seven knots. There was general giddiness among the hundred or so passengers who boarded for a three-hour tour.

A three-hour tour.

Just minutes in, as we maneuvered past a chain of islands, a long sailboat carrying a dozen people passed us on the starboard side. Waves were exchanged among passengers and some of us gave extra scrutiny to the smaller craft. I’m no seasoned seafarer, but it’s a well-known fact that sailboats are often occupied by topless women.

We passed a sprawling red house on the tip of a tiny island and were told it is the former home of the actress who played the Wicked Witch of the West. I marveled at the elegant house with eyes not quite so wide – I have no idea whatever happened to that fine actress, but I had no interest in seeing her topless.

Food was served on the lower deck. So were drinks, which were reasonably priced. The beauty about drinking on a boat like this is that everybody appears equally drunk – every man, woman and child stumbles like the town lush as they make their way up or down the deck.

Every other passenger posed for a photo on the prow (or whatever that pointy part out front is called) of the ship. They stretched their arms out with great drama and pretended to be Leonardo DiCaprio. I was not one of these. I’ve never seen “Titanic” and I’m damn proud of the fact.

A half-hour into the cruise, someone hollered and pointed over the port side. Others stumbled as quickly as one can stumble to that side of the ship. They held cameras up with great expectations. They shielded their eyes and gazed out into the endless world of water.

Oh, right. Whales. We were supposed to be looking for whales.

It was a Saturday afternoon and we were aboard the Pink Lady II for a Cap’n Fish’s whale watch out of Boothbay Harbor. It’s a service that actually guarantees you will see a behemoth or you will get to come back and sail again for free.

For the first hour, everybody rushes from one side of the boat to the other as rumors of whale presence rain down like gull poop. We stop doing that after a time. It becomes clear within an hour or so that there many things to do on a whale watch that don’t involve whales.

“A Hoy!” I screamed every 15 minutes, not because I have any clue what the term means. I screamed it because my sailing companions were Angela and Richard Hoy, terrific friends who publish my many fine novels, along with their kids Mason and Max.

So you see? There is high comedy to be found on the high seas.

Tickets for the cruise are $38 for adults, $32 for kids 11 to 16 years old and $25 for the really young sea salts. There are hot dogs and other noshables, and there is hooch in the form of bottled beer and well drinks.

Sea sickness is apparently not a problem. I didn’t see a single person turning green or leaning over the side of the ship to chum the waters. One young lady who took Dramamine reported she didn’t feel sick at all, but she also slurred her words.

I’d suggest bringing warm clothes just in case you find temperature drops and strong winds. Up to and including hat and gloves. It’s not extremely cold for the duration of the trip, but the wind was chilly when we first got motoring.

Whales? To this point, they remain an alleged fish to me. No sea creatures showed themselves at all and, good to their word, the Cap’n Fish people handed out vouchers to every passenger at the end of the trip. Don’t spot a whale, you can come back another time or try your luck at something different, such as a puffin cruise.

For me, the trip was worth the money even without whale blubber to behold. The experience of being in the open ocean was both humbling and frightening. It can make a person feel wee and disconnected. You may come back with a new perspective on the world and of your own place within it. Not bad for a three-hour tour.

A three-hour tour.

Cap’n Fish’s Whale Watch, Boothbay Harbor. Sightings guaranteed.

Adults: $38

Juniors (11 – 16 years old): $32

Children (10 years old and younger): $25

For more information:

Cap’n Fish’s Whale Watches

Contacts: 1-800-636-3244 and 1-207-633-3244;

The Maine Office of Tourism

Maine Coast Guide

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