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Saturday, May 4, 2024

Whale watching with Ric O’Barry

My third book, The American Outsider, was inspired by Ric O’Barry's work with whales and dolphins. So, when I got an email about Captain Dave's Fundraiser with Ric O’Barry at Dana point, I was excited to sign up. I'm not sure how often they have this fundraiser, but here is the scoop in case anyone is interested.
I live about 1 ½ hours away from Dana Point, and I left three and a half hours early because of the unpredictable Los Angeles traffic, and because I wanted to check out a popular local café, and use a clean bathroom instead of the ones at the beach. Maison café market is known for their Dutch baby. It’s not healthy, but how often would I go back to Dana point? Probably never unless I have a reason to. I suggest sharing this with one or two friends, and skip the syrup. I was on my own, and left more than half of it there because it’s not something you can take home. Glad I tried it. It was good.
Left the café for a five-minute drive. Parking is scarce because there are a lot of families and surfers who want to get an early start, so show up an hour early (they tell you this in their instructions). If you have mobility issues, let them know ahead of time because you have to climb a bunch of stairs and sign in. Then you climb down again, and walk to a boarding area and wait about ten minutes before they take your ticket and you climb up a bunch of more stairs.
If you get motion sickness, take medicine for it because you will need it. Again, if you have mobility issues, it will be difficult for you to move around on this ship because it rocks back and forth with the waves. When we got moving, people were hanging to poles and anything they could grab so that they wouldn’t fall. Above photo: the gentleman in the beige cap is Ric and the one in the blue cap is captain Dave.
On the day of our excursion, there were not that many whales, and there was a horrible stench as the ship moved out of the harbor into the sea. Someone said that the smell was from the seals, sea lions, and seagulls pooping. I don’t understand why no one is talking about this. If you do a search on Dana point, no one tells you this. I have a sensitive nose and at times I wish I was anosmatic. I almost got sick. So, be forewarned, and perhaps wear two masks until you're out of the harbor.
Aboard, there were too many grownups sticking their camera lenses in front of you as though they had never seen or touched a whale before. I was looking outside to see if I can spot a whale, when this one woman rushes toward me, jumps on the seat next to me and stands with 75% of her body sticking outside the ship to take a picture of I don’t know what. I thought at any minute she was going to tip over.



Anyway, I did see some dolphins, but I can see them anywhere such as by simply sitting outside in Malibu at Duke’s. Seals are everywhere in Marina Del Rey minus the smell. And as for whales, there are smaller excursions where you can interact with them and not just watch from miles away.

Even so, I’m glad I signed up, and contributed to their fundraiser. I was happy to meet Ric, and chat with him for a few minutes. He is shy and may seems standoffish, to which I can relate. But, like me, once you start a conversation with him, he has no problem sharing his opinion on different issues. The people working with Ric were all friendly and helpful. There is a tipping jar if you want to tip. And they pass out brownies at the end.



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