During those many days in July and early August when we went out and saw nothing I would spend a lot of time talking about whale biology and behavior any bits of information I could think of to make the trip less disappointing... so I'll do it here too just to make the story of that summer more authentic ;)
There are two main families of whales, one with teeth (odontocetes) and the other with baleen (mysticetes). They are pretty easy to tell apart.
Odontocetes have teeth for grabbing food and a single blowhole or nostril. The largest is the Sperm whale (50feet) but other members of this family include dolphins, pilot whales, narwhals, belugas, orcas etc. They eat fish, squid even other marine mammals.
Mysticetes have baleen for filtering food and have two blowholes. The largest is the Blue whale (100 feet) others are finbacks, humpbacks, minkes, right whales, gray whales etc. They eat some small schooling fish but mostly huge dense concentrations of tiny krill, sand lance or copepods.