Frequently Asked Questions
How often do you see whales?
While every season varies slightly, we sight whales on an average of 99% of our trips. Sometimes weather can be a factor; it is a bit more difficult to sight whales in the fog or on a rough day. However, some of our best trips have come on those difficult days, so we generally will go whale watching in all conditions, as long as safety is not an issue.
What kinds of whales do you see?
There are four main whale species sighted on our trips. The Humpback, Finback and Minke Whales as well as Atlantic White Sided Dolphins. Less common species that we sight occasionally are Harbor Porpoise, Sei Whales, Pilot Whales, Right Whales, and Blue Whales (very rare.)
How close do you get to the whales?
While we never will intentionally approach a whale closer than 100 feet (it's against the law!) they are allowed to approach us if they feel like it. Whales have come close enough to touch (don't do that-it's against the law too!) plenty of times, but it is entirely up to them. Whales are wild animals and behave differently every day but generally we do get excellent looks while operating our vessel responsibly.
How far out do you go? Where do you go to see the whales?
We travel 12-25 miles from Rye Harbor on the average trip. Generally we travel to an area called Jeffreys Ledge which is a very productive area in terms of whale sightings. We also occasionally travel to the northern area of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. We are in contact with many local fishing and whale watching boats, and try to head to the area which gives us the best chance of sightings.
How long does the trip last?
Our whale watches last between four and five hours, depending on where the whales are located. If the whales are a little further away than usual, we will add some extra time to the trip so we can spend enough quality time with the whales.
What is the best time of the year to see whales?
It is really impossible to say when the whale watching is going to be the best. The whales are in our area before our season starts, and after it ends. In our area the whales are here to feed, not migrating, so they move in unpredictable patterns which differ from year to year. The only thing that remains the same from year to year is that we sight whales an average of 99% of the time each year.
What do we see on the trip besides whales and dolphins?
We often sight a large variety of pelagic bird species, as well as harbor seals, sharks, tuna, and sunfish. Depending on the direction we travel out to the whale watching grounds you may get a good view of the Isles of Shoals, Boon Island, Cape Ann MA, and sometimes even Mount Washington!
Is the Whale Watch narrated?
Yes. All of our trips are professionally narrated by one of our staff naturalists who are affiliates of the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation. Our naturalists are all graduates of zoology and marine biology programs and are very experienced and enthusiastic.
What can/can't we bring on the boat?
Feel free to bring food and drinks along. We do have a galley onboard serving hot dogs, soft pretzels, candy, chips, soda, soups and beer. Since we do have an alcohol license, you cannot bring any alcoholic beverages onboard. Small strollers are allowed onboard, but cannot be left in aisles, on the bow (front) of the boat or on the upper deck. Other things that you might want to bring are a camera, sunscreen, and binoculars.
How should we prepare for our trip?
It is usually 10-15 degrees cooler offshore that it is on land, so it is better to dress in layers, and bring one more layer than you think you need. If you are prone to motion sickness it is best to take medication before departure. The boat does move even on calm days, so soft soled shoes are a good idea, heels are not, and for you kids- we will throw those roller shoes overboard!
What happens if we don't see whales?
If no whales or dolphins (they're whales too!) are sighted during your whale watch, we will give you a pass for a free trip with us good for two years from the date of your trip. We cannot give refunds.
Do I need reservations?
We strongly suggest making reservations. Occasionally we do sell out, especially on our PM whale watch, so calling ahead is a good idea. When you make a reservation, we also take your phone number so that if the weather on the day of your trip looks bad, we can let you know ahead of time. If you need to cancel, all we ask is that you let us know before your departure time.s
Do you allow smoking on the boat?
Smoking is not allowed on the boat during any of our public cruises.