To say that conditions on the boat were cramped would be an understatement. At one point, I'm pretty sure I saw a school of sardines swim by and laugh at the stupid humans. Not only were we seated should to shoulder, knee to knee, but many of us had luggage as well. Granted, it was mostly of the backpack or purse variety, but there was no place to put any of it, save at our feet or on our laps. This meant finding the one configuration that worked, then sitting in that position for the entire 2 hours.
Even though this wasn't the whale watching portion of the tour, the captain of the boat did his best to point out things along the way. "If you look out the port side of the boat, you'll see Orcas Island, the largest in this archipelago. For those of you having a hard time making it out, it's the dark mass along the horizon, just behind that low-lying cloud cover..." But the poor visibility wasn't that much of a problem, since he'd point out that same island 4 more times before reaching Friday Harbor.
He told other stories of local color and commented on various points of interest, but we missed much of it, thanks to his competition. I'm talking about a couple of German women seated next to us. Of course, I don't speak the language, so I can't say definitively that they were German, but I'm sure I heard the words "David Hasselhoff" more than once, so I have my suspicions. From the time we left Bellingham until we reached Friday Harbor, these two talked incessantly. And loudly. More often than not, they completely drowned out the PA system. My girlfriend and I both tried firing annoyed glances in an effort to turn down the volume, but eventually had to "shush" them like 4-year olds. That did the trick... for about 3 minutes.
Time practically slowed to a crawl as we strained our eyes, hoping to catch any glimpse of civilization that would signal the end of this Torture-Cruise. And then, just as I was beginning to think I was trapped in some cruel Twilight Zone episode, there it was... Friday Harbor. At long last! A chance to stretch our aching legs by wandering through the local shops, museums, and restaurants promised in the pamphlets. An hour and a half of blessed freedom!
And then the announcement from the captain... "Folks, since we are running a bit behind today, we going to have to cut our stay at Friday harbor short. We'll be setting sail to see the whales in about 45 minutes."
Perfect. How did I not see that coming?