NIC SLOCUM, Whale Watch West Cork
I’M UP EACH morning at 6.30 and head out of the house in Union Hall, where I live, to Baltimore, where the boat is based. It’s a twin-engine catamaran that was purpose-built for whale watching, with a large central cabin if the weather gets the better of us and loads of decking space if it doesn’t.
I’m from the south coast of the UK and used to commute to London every day supplying business information. Over time I came to seriously resent the time I spent commuting.
I had often sailed over to West Cork previously as a hobby and when I decided to bail out with my family 10 years ago, it seemed the obvious place to go.
This is our seventh season running the whale watching.
Each morning I’ll wash off any seagull droppings and seaweed from the day before, pick up my first passenger group at 9am and head out. Most are wildlife enthusiasts, people who just want to be out on the sea, or families looking to entertain their kids.
We don’t promise whales and dolphins every time because they are unpredictable creatures, but for anyone interested in wildlife, there is an abundance of things to see. The marine coast is spectacularly beautiful here.
Tours take four to five hours. We stop for a cup of tea in Cape Clear. I bring sandwiches from home and I’ll have some when we stop during the tour and some afterwards, before I pick up the afternoon tour.
In summer we also run a 90-minute evening tour for people who are caught for time but want to make the most of good weather or just get out on the water.
The sea is hugely appealing to me because of the freedom it offers. About 40 per cent of my passengers are Irish, 40 per cent are from the UK, and the rest from all over.
We take it for granted round here, but most of my passengers work in offices in cities and never get out to see scenery like this.
I get such a buzz from their enthusiasm. A man told me this morning that the trip had recharged his batteries for his return to work and I knew exactly what he was talking about, because that was me 10 years ago.
By 9.30pm I’ll be finishing up and heading home and the rest of the family will be asleep when I get there.
I’ll spend two hours sorting e-mail bookings and then head to bed myself, ready for the next day’s tour.
Recently I was in Nova Scotia and the people I was with were all going on about how gorgeous and amazing the coastline was. I said it was nice but I was really thinking it isn’t a patch on where I live.