Langley Chamber goes whale hunting

Monte Hughes, skipper of the Mystic Sea, points out some porpoises. He offers whale watching tours out of Coupeville. - Michaela Marx Wheatley
Monte Hughes, skipper of the Mystic Sea, points out some porpoises. He offers whale watching tours out of Coupeville.
— image credit: Michaela Marx Wheatley

You know you have a great crowd if the group goes whale watching, the whales don’t show, and everybody still has a great time.

Langley Chamber of Commerce members spent Wednesday evening cruising Saratoga Passage at the second chamber social, an event created for networking outside the business atmosphere.

The group of about 60 chamber members and guests departed from Matt Nichols’ dock in Langley for whale watching and cruising Saratoga Passage aboard the Mystic Sea.

The event was organized by Chamber Executive Director Nancy Rowan and her team.

“Matt Nichols was really the key to making the event possible by allowing us to use his dock in Langley as the launching point,” Rowan said.

Mystic Sea Skipper Monte Hughes had contacted the chamber earlier this year to let them know he would be conducting tours on Mystic Sea Charters, looking for gray whales out of Coupeville in March and April.

“He offered to take our volunteers on a cruise so they could better explain it to locals and tourists. We talked about the fact that although we live on an island, the only boat most of us ever go on is the ferry,” Rowan said.

Thus, the idea was born.

The goal of the chamber’s socials is to have an event that is fun and provides networking opportunities for chamber members.

“A whale watching cruise right out of Langley seemed like the perfect combination of ingredients for a great evening,” Rowan said.

Mike’s Place catered a light supper for the event, providing bags with sandwiches, dessert, pastries and chips for the hungry passengers.

The weather, always a questionable factor in the Pacific Northwest, was very cooperative. The group sailed at mild temperatures and a clear sky toward Coupeville.

No gray whales were sighted. Hughes said that this was just an unfortunate circumstance because on his way to Langley he had seen a number of whales. However, people enthusiastically watched some porpoises playing in the wake of the boat.

Bob Leahy, who came with wife, Donna, the Chef’s Pantry chef, said he had a good time.

“It was a great tour, very entertaining. I liked all the local people on the boat.”

Leahy, a gifted photographer, said it didn’t matter that the whales stayed away.

“I got some great shots of the porpoises and the sunset,” he said.

Denise LaRue, owner of The Cottage, said it was an event to remember.

“I thought it was a blast and while we didn’t get to see the whales, we did get to see one of the best sunsets ever,” she said.

Rowan and her team of organizers got great reviews for the trip at the board meeting the morning after the event.

“Everybody talked about it. It was funny — Nobody brought up the fact that we didn’t see any whales,” she laughed.

The date for the next social event has not been set but it will be in late May or early June.

A seminar on April 18 at Villa Isola to explain to members the chamber’s insurance program offerings is the next event on the chamber’s schedule.

Locals have a chance for a cruise on the Mystic Sea during Welcome the Whales Day, April 15.

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