Blue Claw Boat Tours…Seals, Sea, Sunshine & Scenery

map on ground with people's feet around map

“Have you ever heard of Blue Claw Boat Tours?” Ali asked me. “They do seal tours out of Orleans.” I thought we had been on pretty much every boat on Cape Cod since purchasing the Lamb and Lion Inn 18 years ago, and had just about every brochure in the inn’s brochure rack. How this particular seal tour missed our radar is beyond us, but there was Captain Rob of the Blue Claw Boat Tours being interviewed on the well respected New England TV show “Chronicle”. We had to go find out for ourselves….

Our shoes were trying to map the route…

Orleans is just a pretty 25 minute ride from the inn, so picking a pristine afternoon we booked ourselves on a 3:45pm cruise. Blue Claw Boat Tours has several boats and all go out at various parts of the day, and although we heard from repeat visitors during our wait to board that all of the captains are very knowledgeable and entertaining, we were thrilled to have our afternoon hosted by Captain Rob himself! Upon boarding from the dock at Nauset Marina, Ron promised us lots and lots of seal spotting, as well as waterfront mansion gazing, interesting history and some of the most beautiful Cape Cod scenery any 2 eyes can enjoy–and these promises were delivered in spades!

House hunting in Chatham.

Before shoving off, Rob placed a map at our feet and pointed out our route. We were to slowly motor around a flurry of boats in Meeting House Pond, then through peaceful Packet Landing (with beautiful views of Kent’s Pond Conservation) and then kick the engines up when we hit the open waters of Little Pleasant Bay and Big Pleasant Bay. From there we would head toward Chatham and its famous seals! From dock to dock the tour was going to take 1 hour and 45 minutes, which we agreed was the perfect amount of time for a tour–we love being out on the water, but here on Cape Cod you can fill your days with hundreds of activities, so keeping things under 2 hours is a bonus.

A slow approach…hundreds of seals dead ahead!

“On a very slow day toward the beginning of the season you might see 50 Gray seals, but today you’re in for a real show!” Rob yelled over the buzzing motor. He wasn’t lying. Upon approaching the Chatham area we saw hundreds…and then hundreds more. As we motored in all the passengers were knocked out by the scene. The beach line was absolutely full in every direction! Giant seals the size of a double bed rolling around and satisfyingly grunting, and hundreds of curious babies frolicking in the water. Often as I looked through my camera lens I was delighted to see a pair of playfully eyes staring right back at me.

After spending plenty of time watching the seals enjoying their summer vacation we were in for more surprises. Captain Rob headed further into Chatham where we could spot iconic scenes, like the Chatham fisherman’s fleet and the Chatham Light (interesting tid bit: The original light that was on the same plot of land was commissioned by George Washington). More waterfront “house shopping” ensued from the 10 of us, and then on to our final stop, the famous Chatham Pier and Fish Market! The fish pier is one of the major fishing ports for the Northeast, and I think it’s most famous for 3 things…the fresh fish you can buy, the amazingly fresh and crispy fried clams (I wrote about those for Edible Cape Cod a couple years ago), and of course, more SEALS, who happen to like fresh fish a lot more than you do!

Zig-zagging through the Chatham fisherman’s fleet
Unloading Dog Fish can be entertaining to the masses.

After spending a few minutes trying to explain to some very rambunctious seals that “we have no fish on board” (they didn’t believe us), we waved goodbye to the pier onlookers and headed home. On our way back Captain Rob gave us more history about the area, birding and agricultural facts, and pointed out a few more things–including an unusually colored buoy (yellow) called a “Great White Shark Receiver Buoy” used to detect and record tagged great whites. Although we didn’t see any fins on our trip, it is not unusual to spot a Great White Shark looking to munch on a seal or two.

All in all, Ali and I can tell you that our time on Blue Claw Boat Tours was one of the most interesting and beautiful couple of hours we’ve ever spent on Cape Cod, plus it’s easy to get to, has free parking (something rare to Cape Cod) and lots of options to chose from, including a sunset tour, full moon tour, “lazy lunch tour” (sign me up) a “Scavenger Cruise” and a “Beachcomber Expedition”. When you book your stay at the Lamb and Lion Inn we can buy you tickets and have them waiting in your room upon arrival. What are you waiting for??

Captain my Captain! Rob, creating the perfect afternoon.