Our boats are safe, extremely stable and designed especially for you to get up close and personal with the awesome dolphins and whales of Orange County. You can be close enough to smell their breath!
When we first started whale watching in 1995, the fishing companies took folks out only during the Gray Whale Migration, typically between December and April, on their fishing boats. We offered our whale watching trips on our sailboat, and equipped it with an underwater hydrophone and soon, an underwater camera. In 1998 Capt. Dave and I both felt that the time had come when people needed a way to come to Orange County and watch the wild dolphins, too...all year round.
It was pretty lonely out there in the beginning...searching for dolphins all by ourselves. But lo and behold, Capt. Dave found them..almost every time, and soon we realized that there were resident pods of wild dolphin as large as 5,000. We also learned that there were mainly three species seen, Common dolphin, Risso dolphin and Bottlenose dolphin. We also saw the Pacific white-sided dolphin in the colder months.
It was during that year that we visited Yosemite, located about six hours north of Orange County and Los Angeles. We learned on that visit that if John Muir had not educated people about the beauty and vast wilderness of Yosemite through his writing, then Yosemite might very well not be there today for all of us to enjoy. On the six-hour drive back to Orange County, Dave talked about how he wanted to be the John Muir of the Wild Dolphins and Whales that lived off our coast. "We have a living, breathing, moving Yosemite right off the Orange County coast and no one knows."
He was right about that. We would tell our slip neighbors about the dolphins and whales we would see and they were amazed. If people who had boats didn't know what was out there, then who did? And that was the beginning of our 'mission'...to educate people about the marine wildlife off Orange County and Southern California and to give them a way to experience that wildlife in an 'up-close and exciting way' on our whale watching excursions.
Dave took his cameras to work every day, photographing and filming all the dolphins and whales he saw whale watching. We began collecting rare items, acquiring the permits necessary to have real whale baleen, sperm whale teeth and other items on board to show people.
We bought our first whale watching catamaran, so that people could be out front, low to the water and if they chose, they could lay down on our 'eye-spy dolphin nets' and get within arm's reach of the animals. The whale watching catamaran also offered folks a way to be out on the water and not suffer from seasickness as much because it was more stable. It also had a nice cockpit area and we enclosed it with eisenglass so it was cozy in the colder months.
Back in 1999, Dave woke me up one night at about 3 A.M. with a new vision of what would be' really awesome'. He described it as a whale watching Disneyland-at-Sea sort of experience. One of the components of that dream was to give people a way to not only watch the animals underwater but to give them a way to 'almost swim with the dolphins' (without getting wet that is). We've never forgotten that dream, and it seems that each year we draw closer to it's realization.
In 2006 we bought our second whale watching catamaran, but not before Dave made sure that it had what it took to create an underwater viewing pod. Dave hired a marine architect firm and began the 16-month arduous journey of making(that part of) his whale watching dream boat a reality. Most people would have given up. The USCG had never seen plans like these before, and the Long Beach Office deferred the approval to Washington, DC. No one had ever designed an underwater area such as this in the forward area of a catamaran. After 14 months, several mofications and much lobbying on Dave's part, the plans for the most uniqe whale watching boat were approved.
After two more months of building, the dream is a reality and the world's first "Eye-to-Eye Underwater Dolphin Vieiwng Pod is ready for passengers to experience.
Dress warmly, preferably in layers. During the winter months, it's a good idea to wear a long sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt and a jacket. If you are going out very early in the morning, a hat is always a good idea. Mittens or gloves are a bonus on chilly trips. If you don't have any, bring along an extra pair of socks!
On the other hand, in the summer and late fall it can be positively balmy, and you will definitely be happy in shorts and a t-shirt. But always bring a jacket just in case the weather changes.
If you're prone to motion sickness, choose an early trip. The wind almost always picks up as the day progresses and can cause choppiness and rougher seas. It also makes it more difficult for the Orange County whale watchers to locate the whales. If you do decide to take something, like Dramamine® or Bonine®, check with your pharmacist, and find out if there are any complications with other drugs you may be taking. Take the medication at least a full hour before the trip. We have these items for sale and more at our Dolphin Deck. Eat lightly, avoid grease or fatty foods, alcohol and carbonated beverages. A good nights sleep beforehand is always a plus.
Don't forget the sunglasses and some sort of hat or visor to shade your eyes. The glare from the sun (even on cloudy days) can make it harder for you to see, and give you a headache if you're squinting. Even if you are sitting in the shade, 60% of the sun's rays bounce back up from the water's surface. We also have these items for sale at the Dolphin Deck.
Sunblock is a must, no matter what time of year it is. Put it on ahead of time, so you can wash your hands.
Binoculars are always helpful, but unless you're a very experienced Orange County whale watcher or you're watching from a land lookout, they'll just get in the way. Looking through them is tough in the open ocean, and trying to focus with all the bouncing going on will probably give you a headache.
Bring the camera, but by all means, don't spend all your time looking through the lens. You'll miss too much because your field of focus will be so much smaller. First, enjoy the sights and then try to get a few good shots. If you get great photos or video footage we'd love to see them. Please consider sharing them on our Facebook page!
Young children can get quite bored when whale watching in Orange County, so bring along something to entertain them. Tracking whales is tough for anyone, let alone a child, who has a short attention span. (Remember, on the average, whales stay down for up to five minutes!)
Keep in mind that you won't be able to feed the Orange County whales, dolphins, sea lions or harbor seals. The Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits any activity that would result in altering the behavior of the mammals.