Hello everyone, it’s Danielle back for another season with Quoddy Link Marine. Another season is quickly approaching and I thought that I would re-post some frequently asked questions (FAQ’s).
Before I answer any questions the most important piece of advice I can give you is ASK QUESTIONS, visit the various tour companies, look at the boats and make an educated decision about the company you want to go whale watching with, and we hope you choose us, Quoddy Link Marine!The first question I want to answer is…
I want to answer this question simply by telling you why I LOVE watching whales on the catamaran. I’ve done a lot of whale watching, on many different styles of boats and the catamaran is by far my favorite. First, I love the flat platform. You can get up and walk around and move from side to side. This is important because the whales are not always on the same side of the boat! You could be watching a whale, travelling very cooperatively down the left side of the boat and then “he” can cross over and end up on the right (Yes, then can swim under the boat and no, they will not tip us over). There is lots of room and window space to freely move from side to side. Also, the seats run down the centre of the lower deck so when you move from side to side you are never looking over someones shoulder. The flat and stable platform is also so great to photograph from.
Second, I love that the windows open. You have to be able to really see these whales and not through a window. And one of the really neat parts of a whale watch that guests may not consider is if you can’t open a window you can’t hear or smell the whales! Whales breathe very loudly and on a calm day can be heard over a mile away! They also can have a very stinky breath (you may be thinking “ewwww, I don’t want to smell that” but it’s all part of the experience).
Third, the large upper deck. We can fit 30 passengers on our upper deck. It’s a great view from the upper deck, a different perspective because you can look down into the water and sometimes see more of the whale than you could at the level of the lower deck. I recommend taking the time to experience both the upper and lower deck (I actually prefer to photograph from the lower deck).
And fourth, but certainly not the least important is the safety and stability that the catamaran offers. We have twin engines, so if anything were ever to happen we always have an extra to get us home. The cat has great speed and can get us to where the whales are fast. And last, the catamaran is so stable. Of course you can feel that we are on water, there is motion, but at 17 feet across and with twin-hulls that motion is definitely diminished (I can certainly feel the difference when I am on our power cruiser (used for charters) and then on our catamaran in the same day).
I may touch on some of the points that made here in some of the other FAQ’s but I just wanted to share with you why I love watching whales on the Quoddy Link! What kinds of whales will we see?A very common question. What kinds, or species, of whales we will see will depend on many factors, including; the time of season, the weather and where your captain is willing to take you. The time of season is very important. In our section of the Bay of Fundy, typically minke whales are the first species to arrive (usually around mid-June), the finbacks are next (usually around the beginning of July) and then the humpbacks (usually around mid-August but sometimes as early as the beginning of July).
The weather, another factor we have no control over. Sometimes the weather may dictate where we go, if it’s too windy or foggy we may not to be able to travel to the “offshore area”, where we usually see the larger whales like finbacks and humpbacks. Minke whales are usually more common in the inshore, protected areas and when the weather is bad, the inshore area may remain calm and relatively warm. Please feel free to check on the weather forecast the evening before your trip but all trips aren’t decided upon until about 30 minutes prior to departure.
The one factor we can control is where we choose to take our passengers. If the weather co-operates, and the season is right for larger whales, like finbacks and humpbacks, sometimes there is a choice where to go. There are many times when there are whales about 10 miles from St. Andrews and whales 16-20 miles from St. Andrews and at these times we may have the choice to stop and stay at the first whales we see……or go further. With Quoddy Link Marine, we always go further. I have worked with the company for 6 years now and I can’t think of a time when John or Matt (our 2 captains) didn’t choose to go the distance to show our passengers the larger whales. To tell you the truth, we want to see the finbacks and humpbacks as well. Our Scout Boat helps out here as well, scouting the further locations for us, so when we leave St. Andrews we may not even stop at the closer whales (they may be close but there is almost always too much boat traffic). If we can show our passengers finbacks and/or humpbacks over minke whales, we will try. We will also try to leave boat traffic behind, it’s not the best viewing experience to have too many boats with the whales and more importantly, it’s not good for the whales either.
Should we bring binoculars?
Yes, but binoculars are not great for watching whales, they are mainly used for looking at stationary objects like seals on rock and bald eagles in trees. We do use binoculars when looking for whales in the distance. When looking for whales we have to look for blows, or “spout”, which can be seen from a few miles away on a clear day. The best advice we can give is bring your binoculars if you would like, but when we are watching whales, put them down and use your eyes, otherwise you will miss a lot of the experience.
OF COURSE! But when photographing whales, the best advice I can give is when we get there, put your camera down and just watch the whales, learn a bit of their behaviour, and don’t spend the entire trip looking through your view finder or at your LCD screen, use your eyes, take in the experience. When on the boat I can offer some advice on photographing the whales as well.
What should we wear?
Layers, layers, LAYERS. We can’t stress this enough. Even if it’s beautiful and warm on land in St. Andrews please bring warm layers (coat, pants, sweatshirt….hat and mittens even, it’s cold on the open Bay of Fundy). There is no quicker way to ruin a trip then to be cold and we do have some blankets on board but please dress warmly. Also, sunscreen is essential, when on the water to get hit twice, once from the sun, and again from the reflection off the water.
Is there a bathroom on the boat?
YES, there is a modern, electric washroom on the Quoddy Link.
Is there a snack bar on the boat?
No, there is not a snack bar on the boat but feel free to bring along a lite snack, or even a small cooler. It is a good idea to at least bring along a bottle of water. Please, no alcohol, we are not licenced. We do provide free hot chocolate and a small taster, to give you a flavour of New Brunswick.
How many passengers are there on the boat? How many guides?
There are 3 crew, 2 guide and 1 captain, aboard the Quoddy Link, all with first aid and all crew take a Marine Emergency Duties coarse.
Will the whale raise its tail?
Another very common question. Not all whales raise their tail. Humpback whales will most likely raise their tail on their terminal dive (whales will usually do a series of dives and then arch their back and dive deeper, this final dive is called a “terminal dive”). Finbacks, the second largest whale in the world and much larger than humpbacks do not typically raise their tail. Finback whales can reach lengths of over 70 feet and weigh more than 180,000 lb.
Our season begins on June 20th at 2:00 pm. I hoping that the 2009 season will be one of the best!