“You can’t discover a new land without first losing sight of the shore”. Words of wisdom to live by metaphorically and figuratively, although they are inconsequential when taken literally and one has a fear of deep, dark, cold waters. Good thing for this post I’m not only an excellent swimmer and buoyant as hell, I also have no uneasiness around water. But when you’re talking about an ocean it doesn’t matter how confident a seaman you are or how good your back stroke is. With an average temperature of 7° C (45° F) off the Canadian coast, should you be submerged in it, the North Atlantic ocean will kill you long before you can dog pedal your way to safety.
A few years back I had to contemplate my fate as I sat aboard a ferry bound for Nantucket (yes it’s not just a limerick) off the coast of Massachusetts quite literally in the middle of a “perfect” storm. Ok so it wasn’t as bad as the George Clooney flick, but it was a ferocious north-easterly strong enough that the locals claimed the next morning that the ship should never have left the dock of the mainland. During the crossing had I not been so sick I might have actually been scared. Luckily the rocking, honking of car alarms going off from the knocking and banging, and objects flying about from all the motion had me just wishing I would die. Of course I really didn’t want to die, but in that moment I contemplated whether it would be a better fate. Once safely on shore I vowed never again. The only way I was entering, exploring or crossing any ocean from now on would be by air.
So imagine my surprise when a whale watching tour invitation was not only graciously, but without hesitation accepted by yours truly. Yes call me crazy but the idea of sailing where the mouth of the Bay of Fundy meets the mighty Atlantic had me all tingly inside.
Close to the US border resides the most beautiful, quintessential Maritime town your eyes will ever rest upon – St. Andrews, New Brunswick (fondly referred to as St. Andrews By-The-Sea). Picturesque and oozing charm this little village is home to Jolly Breeze Whale Watching Tours which in and of itself is the most appealing if not fascinating tour we could find. Set upon a Canadian Coastguard approved Tall Ship, the Jolly Breeze, as she is named, allows her up to 46 passengers to sail the Atlantic in smooth, quite comfort without obstructions like windows.
And although the day we went we saw no whales, we did see porpoises, sea lions and some fantastic land and seascapes. These sightings coupled with the critters displayed on the ship which included star fish, crabs, sponges and other various creatures (don’t worry they are caught and returned to the sea each day) satisfied our hunger for sea life viewing. And no I don’t mean hunger like we wanted to eat them either. But if you are hungry drinks and snacks are sold aboard the Jolly Breeze if you need more than the delicious pea soup included in your ticket price and served during your voyage.
Some words of caution. The North Atlantic is cold and is so is the air resting above it, even in the dead of summer. The staff will provide blankets to help keep you warm but dress in layers so you can strip down or pile on depending on your internal temperature. One last thing – don’t forget to wear sunscreen. With the cold air you cannot tell if you are burning and I literally disembarked the Jolly Breeze the colour of a tomato.
Tours run from June to October. Read about tour times/dates and pricing here.
How To Get There
Saint John, NB – west on highway 1; take exit 39 onto highway 127 towards Bocabec, St. Andrews.
Fredericton, NB – south on highway 8 then continue on highway 2 south; take exit 258 onto highway 3 towards St. Stephen; turn left onto highway 127
Bangor, ME – east on US-1 Alt N/ME-9; turn left onto N Main St/ME-9/ME-178/ME-15 Bus; turn right onto Houlton Rd/US-1 S – continue to follow US-1 S; take 2nd exit of roundabout towards International Ave, which becomes New Brunswick highway 1 east; take exit 25 onto highway 127 towards St. Andrews.
The tour was a relaxing and serene ride albeit chilly. But the hot soup and comfy blankets kept us warm and in search of more. Thank you to the Jolly Breeze crew for a safe and memorable journey!
~True North Nomad
Have you been blessed to see whales on your whale watching tour?
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