A blanket of marine fog surrounded the anchored ship at first light. Between the melodic songs of meadowlarks, the distant exhales of gray whales could be heard in the direction of the Boca de Soledad. We’d spend the morning in the boca, where the Pacific penetrates through sandy barrier islands and into sheltered lagoons. In the boca, we were rewarded with countless whale sightings and we watched as the whales played, surfing the swells.

After pulling anchor, we made our way down the Hull Canal and towards Sand Dollar Beach. Here we could finally explore one of the many dune systems that interface with the mangrove tracts, both of which provide sheltered habitat for wintering whales. We wandered, jumped off dunes, and admired animal tracks.

We left before dinner, our footprints inevitably replaced by ocean winds. Our evening was for reflection, a group come together to experience gray whales.