“There is nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats”, or so the saying goes. So on an afternoon that could only be described as a Chamber of Commerce kind of day, or as Rich would describe it “severe clear”, we boarded the Blue Claw sightseeing boat for an adventure out to see the abundant seal colonies off the coast of Chatham.
We were greeted by Captain Rob, a ruggedly handsome man with windswept hair and a twinkle in his eye. A charming fellow who clearly loves what he’s doing, Captain Rob went over the itinerary for the afternoon, along with the requisite safety precautions, before heading out on our adventure. The hour and a half trip would take us through the salt marsh, past ancient Native American Indian grounds, areas abundant with wildlife, sites of storied pirate treasure, and my favorite: in front of spectacular waterfront properties impossible to see from land.
We cruised from the town landing at Meeting House Pond in Orleans, down The River, along Barley Neck, and out into Little Pleasant Bay. Here Captain Rob regaled us with a story of buried pirate treasure at Money Head on Hog Island, treasure attributed to the infamous Captain Kidd, a notorious pirate that sailed off the coast of Cape Cod in the 1800s. We squeezed through the Narrows along Sipsons Island, a private island that sold for the meager sum of $3 million dollars just a few years ago, through Pleasant Bay, and past Strong Island, where a magnificent summer wedding was taking place.
Our ultimate destination was Chatham Harbor, where large colonies of gray seals populate the waters year round. Their presence here is controversial, as the seals feed on striped bass, a popular sport and commercial fisherman’s quarry, and happen to be a tempting food source for great white sharks. According to Captain Rob, the seal population in the harbor is growing, by some estimates it is now in the neighborhood of 15,000 to 25,000. The recent sighting of great white sharks off the coast of Lighthouse Beach has created some tension among inhabitants of Chatham and other parts of Cape Cod, causing beaches to be closed to swimmers and a flurry of media attention of late.
We watched transfixed as the seals bobbed effortlessly in the gentle water of the harbor. Some were curious, seemingly trying to make eye contact with the strange creatures aboard the Blue Claw. Others paid no mind to our presence, content to float fat and lazy on their backs in the sun. We tarried for a while, then motored on to Lighthouse Beach, just off the coast of Chatham Light, then back through Aunt Lydia’s Cove, home of the Chatham Bars Inn, and up past the Chatham Fish Pier.
Too soon it was time to head back to where we began this afternoon odyssey. The captain skillfully navigated the return trip at speeds approaching 25 knots. The wind felt warm against our sun-warmed skin, and the boat bounced in the wake of other power boats out enjoying the spectacularly gin-clear afternoon, causing salt water to spray our faces and great glee among some of our younger fellow passengers.
For $30 per person, less for children and seniors, we spent a delightful afternoon on the water with Captain Rob aboard the Blue Claw. In addition to seal cruises, he offers beachcombing and sunset tours, as well as custom charters for special occasions from mid-May through mid-October. We highly recommend this trip for all our guests!