It was a very overcast and chilly day. While wrapped in several layers of clothing, I was ill-prepared for the bite of wind at sea. For the first two and half hours I was fine. It was magical actually. Seeing dolphins racing alongside the boat, calf tucked protectively under mama’s fin, amazing. I hardly noticed the ocean spray against my cheeks as I peered down into the water with all the excitement of child. We had been told ahead of time that we there was a chance we may not see whales. We were prepared, and quite frankly, convinced that there would be no sightings.

When the captain’s voice rang out on the loud speaker, I almost missed it. Did he say something about whales? There were roughly 20 people on the boat and everyone was scanning the horizon for the telltale signs. I remember thinking how strange it was to miles from shore and knowing that whales were amongst us. It started off calm. An occasional fluke and a glimpse of the namesake grey-colored hump. But then things got very interesting. Directly ahead of us was a pod of brown pelicans. There were hundreds of them circling, then diving in a gigantic mass of wings and water. Then the dolphins joined in leaping out of the water catching fish. Acting like mini-torpedoes, the seals flew through the air. The finale brought the whales. Four humpbacks joined the feeding frenzy with their own hunting technique. They came from below and burst through the surface of the ocean with thousands of gallons of water in their enormous mouths. They remain in this position for a few seconds as water filters out leaving behind only fresh fish. The extreme energy in the water seemed to travel in our direction as even the volunteer naturalists aboard the ship exuded excitement at this incredibly rare sight.

When the frenzy was over I was filled with bliss. I knew I was lucky to have witnessed such natural beauty. Then a new feeling began creeping over me. It was familiar, yet very unwelcome. After about 45 minutes of extreme nausea, I was overcome and lost my lunch over the side of the boat. I thought it very cliche to vomit off the side of the boat, but apparently, that is just what you. Hours later I sat at home realizing that my world was still rocking. Clearly, it was time for homemade ginger mint tea.


Ginger Mint Tea

Start with fresh ginger.  There are a myriad of health benefits associated with this root and it has been used for over four thousand years. Native to Asia, ginger has been used to treat everything from nausea and menstrual cramps to osteoarthritis. The next thing you will need is fresh mint leaves. Mint is extremely easy to grow and is great for people who don’t have much time to garden. Word of caution: make sure to plant mint in a pot and not directly into the ground as it is an aggressive spreader. You can also purchase mint at your farmers market and in the fresh herb section of your grocery store.

To make the tea, cut off half to a 1 inch of ginger, peel, then mince or mash. Smash mint leaves between your fingers before finely chopping to release the oils. Place both mint and ginger in a tea strainer, and pour in boiling water, and steep  for 3-5 minutes. If you like it strong, leave it in as you drink it. Add local, raw honey (I used some special sour wood honey from Tennessee that my neighbor brought me) to taste and an optional squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Click on any of the thumbnail images below to see the slideshow:

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Here are a few pictures my husband took from our whale watching excursion:

The humpback emerging from below to catch fish.

After the feeding frenzy


Special thanks to the crew and volunteer naturalists on the Santa Barbara Condor Express for the amazing day at sea. Next time I’ll do what my hubby did and take a some anti-nausea medication before the boat ride!
All photos by Be Food Smart