News from Around Banderas Bay | January 2009
|A Day of Whale Watching - and What a Day it Was!|
Sergiu Arhip - PVNN
Spending time on the water is always a thrill for me. Being raised in Eastern Europe in the Republic of Moldova and landlocked by the USSR, I have always had a love for water. On this, my second trip to Puerto Vallarta; I now understand what all the fuss is about. You have a magnificent city, and I can honestly say today was one of the best days of my life. My experience aboard the Pegaso Charters Tinuviel 1972 teak sail boat is not something I will ever forget.
|Pegaso Chartering has been operating Banderas Bay whale watching tours since 1994. To make your reservations and save 10% off their regular prices send an email to PegasoPV(at)prodigy.net.mx|
So here we are. It is 9 am, the sun rising above Marina Vallarta. It is a bit cool and we are onboard the Pegaso Charter Tinuviel 1972 teak sailboat. The haze is making the Sierra Madre mountains behind us appear part of the blue sea, joining them together. On board, our host Carlos greets everyone. He cheers us with his personal stories blended with some rules and expectations for the day.
A short stop to Nuevo Vallarta to pick up a few additional passengers. This could be a long day, so we are thankful the water in the Bay of Banderas is calm.
All of the passengers are friendly and excited about the day ahead. Our first mate offers refreshments and freshly-baked pastries. The wind is picking up a notch as we accelerate into the blue seas, making the Mexican flag come full and erect. Pulling into the Nuevo Vallarta harbor, we see the many beautiful yachts and dream of our experiences ahead.
We have been told that there is much humpback whale activity in the Bay of Banderas this year. But, like many fishing stories, we took if for just that. Carlos, our host, asked each of us to be on lookout for whales and provided instructions on how to call them out. "If you see activity, call out whale spotted at 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock, 9 o'clock - or perhaps 2:36."
Much to my surprise, a Canadian man calls out, "first whale spotted at 9:40 am at 11 o'clock." While everyone has camcorders and cameras in hand, I am excited that we have activity so early in the morning. Our able captain, Max, with precision, starts to follow the humpback whale pod. We are in awe of its tail and humpback just popping out of the water long enough to give us a photo opportunity.
Now that we know the rules, everyone starts to participate. We hear call outs, "whales at 9 o'clock' whales at 4 o'clock! Whales at 2 o'clock!" Wow! Completely surrounded by these magnificent creatures, our captain Max follows the 2 o'clock pod (a female and her calf along with their protector.) They are staying very close to the surface as young calves do not have the same lung capacity as adults, who can stay under water for up to 30 minutes at a time.
This amazing pod of humpback whales is not just the original three we thought, but a pod of 8-10. We are seeing what I believe to be something very few people ever get to experience. To view this many male humpbacks attempting to catch the attention of perhaps 1 or 2 female humpbacks is a spectacular show. In whale world, bigger really IS better.
This has been the best morning for viewing my new friends. As whales are, as I thought, more active in the mornings, around 11 we move on. Our next stop, Las Marietas Islands National Park. On our way, we are offered a snack of fresh guacamole, salsa and chips. As this is only my second time to try guacamole, which I have grown to love, I know this is going to be a good day.
After one hour of snorkeling and having satisfied my need to see colorful fish, coral and the beauty of Las Marietas Islands up close, I am ready for the promised Corona and cocktails - served after the snorkeling is completed.
The sun is in full swing now, Salsa music is playing. The passengers are happily sipping on their fountain drinks and Margaritas, chatting away about all of the excitement the trip has provided so far. Our captain seems satisfied with the sites we have all observed. We have a great mix of people on our sailing vessel. We have passengers from Canada, Croatia, Japan, a newly married couple and their parents.
In what I thought was going to be a relaxing sail back to Marina Vallarta, I did not expect what was still to come. Lunch was served, very tasty and filling, and now it was time for my quick siesta. A siesta today was not going to happen.
Someone yells out, "whales 9 o'clock!" What, whales in the afternoon? It is 3 in the afternoon, this can not be...
What we witnessed and observed for the next 30-45 minutes, I will take with me for the rest of my life.
The humpback whale migrates from the northern cold waters of Alaska to the Bahía de Banderas and also the Hawaiian Islands. They migrate to give birth to their calves from last year's mating season. As they travel in pods, the escorts (male or female) then mate for the ongoing cycle of giving birth every 12 months.
There must have been a beautiful female at 9 o'clock because there were 2-3 males vying for her attention. As I mentioned previously, size matters. The male humpback attempts to create scale and as much noise as possible to lure the female into mating with him. So we witnessed 2-3 males seeking the attention of the female.
One of the males in his show of strength was beating is tail against the water, perhaps 20-30 times, creating sound for the female with his size. But not to be out done, another male decided to up the ante a bit and started to breach the water (jump out.) He must have breached no less than 8 times. The size and beauty of a humpback whale breaching is one of the most magnificent sights on earth.
I came to learn that in an entire season, tours may only get to see this perhaps 5 times, but today, we were in the right place at the right time. Our fantastic host, Carlos, told us for each breach the whale exhausts about 2,500 calories, the average amount consumed by a human in an entire day.
The power and force of them jumping from the water is breathtaking. Our entire group is jumping from one side of the boat to the other, front to back, cameras in hand. We are all in amazement of what we are experiencing. I myself had my body covered with goose bumps. This was better than chocolate cake!
What a day I had! What a vacation I am having... and what a treat to spend my vacation in Puerto Vallarta!
The pictures I took (already my screen saver) will remind me of this fantastic day in paradise aboard the Pegaso Charters Tinuviel sailing ship.
My thanks to our crew: Captain Max, Host Carlos, First Mate Gabriel and our Chef Oliver and everyone at Pegaso Charters. You have allowed me to experience the best day of my life. Thank you.
Whether you are into whale watching, snorkeling, fishing, beach combing, or you just want to spend a lazy day of sailing, relaxing in the breeze and sunbathing while enjoying great music, tasty food and excellent scenery, climb aboard one of Pegaso's sailboats for "The Best Day of your Puerto Vallarta Vacation!" For more information about Pegaso Chartering's kid-friendly sailing tours, click HERE.