Social Event – Whale Watching Cruise


photo of a Gray Whale spy-hopping

Every winter, a large population of sea mammals traverses the California coastline. These magnificent creatures are the California Grey Whales. In the fall, the California Gray Whale starts what is described as the longest known mammal migration. It begins in the Bering and Chukchi seas off the west coast of Canada and ends in the warm-water lagoons of Mexico's Baja peninsula. This journey begins each October as the northern ice pushes southward. Travelling both night and day, Gray whales average approximately 120 km (80 miles) per day. By mid-December to early January, the majority of the Gray whales are usually found between Monterey and San Diego, where they are often seen from shore. You can learn more about Grey Whales at

ACSAC is offering you the opportunity to see these magnificent beasts. The ACSAC special event will involve luxury motorcoach round-trip transportation from the hotel to the Dana Wharf Sportfishing Pier, where we will board a state-of-the-art 63-foot catamaran called the “Ocean Adventure”. We will then explore the coastal waters off Orange County, where a trained naturalist will guide our whale-watching and sea-life exploration voyage. Along the way to the Wharf, we will stop and pick up lunch at In-N-Out, a uniquely Southern California dining experience.

The Whale Watching Adventure

Our two-hour whale watching adventure will be operated by Dana Wharf Sportfishing ( Dana Wharf Sportfishing is a family-owned-and-operated company that has been offering only the finest whale watching, sportfishing, sailing, and ocean adventures on the California coast for over 35 years, and is the originator of whale watching cruises in Orange County. Our vessel will be the OCean Adventures Catamaran ( The trip will offer a unique mix of ecology, education and excitement, highlighted by informative commentary by naturalist Morgan Ritchie or a member of her team who are among the most respected names in the field of outdoor natural-history experiences.

boat photo

The OCean Adventure is a brand-new (entered operation January 2008) state-of-the-art 63-foot catamaran. Among the catamaran’s many innovations are underwater cameras that enable guests to view ocean inhabitants while they are below the surface . It also features bow-mounted cameras for optimal viewing of undersea life on flat-screen monitors. To help protect the ecology of the ocean it will be exploring, the OCean Adventure’s advanced-technology engines are significantly quieter and produce 75% fewer emissions than engines from just five years ago. The catamaran’s shape and configuration also guarantee one of the smoothest rides on the open ocean.

About Dana Point

Located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, experts believe the 200-foot cliffs jutting out into the sea at Dana Point serve as a landmark for the migrating whales. Approximately 25% of the migrating whale population follows the coastline throughout their migration, coming especially close to shore at Dana Point. During peak season, (December through March), 40 to 50 whales pass by Dana Point every day, making Dana Point Harbor the best spot to Whale Watch in Southern California and a popular destination for winter vacationers. In addition to California Gray Whales, Humpback Whales, and even pods of Killer Whales have been spotted in recent years. The Harbor's design allows for quick access to the open water, allowing more time for whale watching (and less time traveling out to sea).

Dana Point was named for Richard Henry Dana, Jr., author of "Two Years Before The Mast". He referred to Stillwater Bay (now Capistrano Bay) as the most Romantic spot on the Coast. Dana was traveling aboard the brig Pilgrim, which at the time had to travel to California via Cape Horn and the stormy Strait of Magellan.  The construction of Dana Point Harbor started in the late 1960's with the building of the rock breakwater jetties. Dana Point Harbor was officially dedicated on July 31, 1971. In addition to the two harbor basins and numerous restaurants, Dana Point is home to the Orange County Marine Institute. The facility provides classroom instruction, wet laboratory equipment, display tanks, and exhibits to study marine life. A 70 foot research vessel Sea Explorer provides daily cruises to study and observe marine life offshore. Just beyond the base of the breakwater lies the Marine Life Refuge, a protected area for observing marine life in the tidepools at the base of the majestic bluffs overlooking the ocean. The Marine Institute also displays the brig "Pilgrim" which is a full-sized replica of the square rigged vessel on which Richard Henry Dana sailed into this cove. The Pilgrim is docked adjacent to the fishing pier and offers school children the experience of life aboard a sailing ship in the 19th century.

A California Lunch

In-N-Out logo

As we travel from our hotel to Dana Point, we will stop and pickup a lunch that truly represents Southern California and its lifestyle. In-N-Out Burger ( has been providing the freshest, highest-quality fast food to Southern California since its first location was opened in Buena Park in 1948. It has remained family owned and operated, and only has locations in California, Arizona, and Nevada.

What makes In-N-Out special is the freshness of its ingredients and the simplicity of its menu.  In-N-Out has a limited menu consisting of only three different sandwiches: the hamburger, cheeseburger, and "Double-Double" (double meat/double cheese). French fries and fountain drinks are available, as well as three flavors of milkshakes (although milkshakes will not be an option on the ACSAC order). The hamburgers come with lettuce, tomato, with or without onions (the customer is asked upon ordering, and may have them fresh or grilled), and a sauce, which is called "spread." Any combination of these ingredients is possible: burgers may be “protein style” (i.e., wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun, for those wheat sensitive); there are grilled cheese sandwiches for the vegetarians (everything on a cheeseburger, minus the meat); and there are even veggie burgers (everything on a cheeseburger, minus the meat and cheese).  Fries are cut fresh from the potatoes at each store, and cooked in 100% vegetable oil.

ACSAC will be offering attendees a choice of a double-double, a grilled cheese, or a veggie burger (along with options for bun, tomato, lettuce, onions, and sauce), fries, and a soft-drink. We will time departure so as to permit attendees to finish their lunch prior to boarding the catamaran.

What to Wear

Attendees should dress in layers with comfortable and casual clothes. We recommend that you bring a warm jacket or sweater because sometimes it can be a bit cool on the water. All passengers should wear soft-soled tennis shoes only. No boots or high-heels please! For safety reasons, passengers that are not wearing proper foot attire may be denied boarding privileges.
We encourage attendees to bring their cameras . You might also want to bring binoculars, hat, or sunscreen.

Cost and Schedule

The cost for the ACSAC Whale Watching adventure is $75. This includes the round-trip motor coach transportation, lunch, and the two-hour whale watching adventure. The schedule for the trip is to depart the conference hotel on Friday 12/12 at 12:00pm Pacific Time, and to return to the hotel by 5:00pm Pacific Time. Note that the cost of this trip is partially underwritten by the conference.

If the weather makes the water too choppy for a safe and smooth whale watching adventure, ACSAC will coordinate an alternate activity, and will announce it during the conference and provide the opportunity for participants to adjust their reservations.

Dana Point Sportfishing:
Ocean Adventures:
History of Dana Point:
In-N-Out Burgers: