WESTPORT, Calif. — Whale watching off the Mendocino coastline requires a good eye and a lot of luck, but there is one town along Highway 1 that guarantees a whale sighting...
Tourists driving along Highway 1 know it as the Westport Whale, but creator Kyle Siler has a different name for it.
“I named it after my favorite character in the Moby Dick book: Queequeg,” said Siler.
Unlike the fictional character in the classic Herman Melville book, the Westport Whale is not a cannibalistic harpoon thrower like Queequeg was. Far from it, in fact.
“I guess it’s a large lawn ornament,” said Siler.
A lawn ornament you can actually go inside. On the side of the whale is a door leading into the spacious belly of the sculpture.
“I plan on putting a bed in here with a TV,” said Siler.
The inspiration for the Westport Whale came in 2008 while Siler was in the middle of drinking a few adult beverages and saw a real whale breach in the ocean.
“I just felt like that was a sign so I grabbed a shovel and started digging a hole in the yard,” said Siler.
Over the next several months, he welded a frame for the whale and covered it in a blend of environmentally-friendly concrete.
“The whale is made out of old newspaper, sand from the beach and recycled paint. All I had to buy was Type-4 concrete mix,” said Siler.
These days Siler rents out the property to vacationing tourists. You can’t sleep in the whale, but you can sleep in the adjacent building, which used to be an old blacksmith shop.
“They used to make horseshoes and wagon wheels here,” said Siler.
Inside the nautical themed vacation rental you'll find fish on the walls, sea-themed masks, and a collection of whale art.
“Every guest that stays here, I ask them to make a whale-inspired art piece,” said Siler.
If you come during Memorial Day weekend, you can join in on the annual Westport Whale Festival, a celebration of migrating whales.
You are not guaranteed to see a real whale when you visit Westport, but you can always take a selfie with the next best thing.
MORE WHALE TALES FROM THE BACKROADS: Welcome to California's dolphin and whale watching capital. Dana Point is the first Whale Heritage Site in the Americas.