Nantucket can be expensive, but an overnight in one of the many whaling captains’ houses that have been converted to inns and bed-and-breakfasts might be worth the investment.
Back in Hyannis, drive up the Cape on Route 6A, the old King’s Highway, threading your way along the National Seashore for the sand cliffs, seal sightings, and the endless horizon of the ocean.
“[E]ven so, amid the tornadoed Atlantic of my being . . . deep down and deep inland there I still bathe me in eternal mildness of joy.”
“Moby-Dick,” Chapter 87
As much as Melville’s novel details the hunt, also present is his immense awe of the living creature, so finish with a whale watch. We chose to voyage out of Provincetown because Melville mentions it by name in “Moby-Dick,” and the drive up the muscular curved arm of the Cape to its far land’s end seemed a fitting end to the excursion. We took the Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch, but there are several local outfits.
We powered out at a rapid clip to Stellwagen Bank, the huge underwater island between Cape Cod and Cape Ann. On this new kind of whaleboat, the joy of the watchers is nearly as sublime as the activities of the whales: Almost uniformly, people lose their language and are reduced to gasps and cheers.
We all became expert at spotting whales: looking first for where the gulls went arrowing (they spy the whales deep beneath the waves) and then for where the humpbacks’ bubble nets rose like green halos. Then the whales would appear, slick backs breaking the water, their blowholes chuffing, their faces grinning gates of baleen. One whale breached twice for us, surrounded by spray that refracted the sunlight. It was a prime example of a whale, celebrated by the astonished laughter of children and others for whom whales are no longer resources, but restored to their status of sea gods.
Laura Marjorie Miller can be reached at email@example.com.