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BellaOnline's New England Travel Editor

Whale Watching, Kayaking North of Boston

During a recent visit to the North of Boston area in Massachusetts, my family ventured to Gloucester to go on a whale watch. Capt. Bill's Whale Watch works in association with the Whale Center of New England, and the insights of the onboard naturalist during the trip were both entertaining and educational. For example, we learned that a Humpback Whale can weigh up to 25 tons, and will consume over 1,000,000 calories per day!

Capt. Bill's claims a 99.9% success rate of sightings, and we did see several whales. But be forewarned, if you ever find yourself on a whale watch with me, the whales will always be on the opposite side that Im on.

Dress warm, in layers, because the temperature varies so. Bring Dramamine or ginger, whatever works for you for sea sickness, because once we were out on the ocean, moving with the waves, even I felt a little queasy, and I never get motion sickness.

It was really worth it, though, and my son really enjoyed it. You may want to bring something for the kids to do on the ride out as it takes awhile.

After the tour, visit the Visitor's Center admission is free. You can even adopt a whale. For $35 you get an 8 x 10 photo and a biography of your whale, an audio CD of whale songs, and four issues of "Flukeprints". You can track your whale on the website Whale Center of New England.

We also enjoyed our guided kayak trip with Plum Island Kayak, Newburyport. Gary and Ken were delightful guides, encouraging, patient, and a lot of fun.

Gary spent a considerable amount of time encouraging my son, who was a bit intimidated being a kayak by himself. With Gary's guidance, he was soon kayaking circles around his and dad and me.

Our group included a woman who had just purchased a kayak and wanted to get more used to it, and two women who had never kayaked before.

We explored the Merrimac River and a hidden outlet that required portaging over rocks and some back paddling. We saw several herons and many different types of birds. I was very impressed with their concern for the environment.

The trip was so enjoyable that my reluctant son wanted to go back the next the day and do it again! I had to promise him that we would take the tour again the next time we return.

Another "side effect" of the trip is that my husband and I, both avid canoeists, have decided to get kayaks this spring.

Capt. Bill's is located at 24 Harbor Loop in Gloucester. Their phone number is 800.339.4253. They offer whale-watching tours in the spring, summer and fall. Call or see their website for dates and times.

Plum Island Kayak also offers rentals and kayak instruction. Some of their special tours include Full Moon Paddles, Bird Watching and a Kayak/Yoga Session. Their phone number is 978.462.5510, and they are located at 38R Merrimac Street in Newburyport.

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