Sunday, March 4, 2012

Seals and rubber boats

Oh, ok so their proper name is an Inflatable Rubber Boat, or IRB. Really it doesn't matter! What's way more interesting is the fun you can have with them :D
One of the local rescue boats

Years ago, way BC (before kids) we succumbed to the allure of one of these magical, hysterically fun little craft, and had an absolute ball fanging around in it. On occasion we were pulled over by the Water Police, not so much for acting irresponsibly (good grief, of course not!), but because it seems to be expected that the owners of such craft are likely to flout regulations like carrying PFD's (personal floatation device - aka life jacket), flares and things like that which the police happen to consider are extremely important. Being little Goody Two Shoes, we always had the requisite bits and bobs, I suspect much to the chagrin of the coppers!

However, there was one occasion when we kind of bit off more than we could chew ... well, only one occasion for the purposes of this post ;)
Seal Rocks are to the right of the mound (The Nobbies) on the horizon
We decided to head off to Seal Rocks, in Westernport Bay. It was a long time ago, before it was a no-no to swim with the seals. We pulled up in a little rocky nook out of the swell and waves, all the better to get up close and personal with the fur seals. The smell was overpowering - putrid stench is a better term. It oozes off the rocks and out of the murky pooey water. They stink. The whole area stinks. You gag with the pong. I guess it's the rotting fish, lack of oral hygiene, and the burping and farting of the big boys and girls out there!

My cousin, lovely boy that he was, decided that it would be interesting to get out of the boat and see what a seal looked like from closer quarters. Hmmm. Is this a good idea? They're big. They have harems. They can get rather grumpy and chase off interlopers in an aggressive kind of way. Did I mention they're BIG? Really big!

"No worries" says Cuz, "She'll be right"- and off he goes scrambling awkwardly over the unfriendly black rocks.

He lasted for oh, I'd guess about 30 seconds...

It's fair to say I've never seen anyone move so fast and for all intents and purposes enact the classic cartoon manoeuvre of running through the air. The massive bull seal was outraged and determined to see off the interloper who was clearly after his harem! The noise!!! OMG He was furious and letting every being with kilometres know that he meant business!

Slender cousin extracted himself from the sharp, rocky and ultimately unwelcoming outcrop, faster than any of those highly trained lycra clad elite Olympic athletes strutting their stuff on slick surfaces!

Needless to say, my husband and I were doubled up with laughter, tears streaming down faces, yet well aware of the potential danger dear Cuz was facing. Frantically, hubby tried to start the strangely recalcitrant engine and manoeuvre the suddenly slothful boat ready for an inelegant landing and a James Bond style get-away.

Eyes round, and clearly extremely concerned, and making some very odd squawky noises, Cuz flailed and flew, scrabbling at the slick red rubber of the boat, with petite me dragging at any patch of wetsuit and clawing to drag him to safety. Satisfied, the bull seal harrumphed and snorted his way back to his precious harem as we skittered off to a safe distance to reflect on what could possibly have gone wrong.

Which is all a long way of saying we went for a stroll along the safe sands near Seal Rocks this morning and reminisced.

Now I wonder if Cuz has told his children of this particular adventure or will I share the link to this post on FB?
Seaweed. Safer than seals!
Seaweed and shadow.


Richard said...

Ah yes, the whole thing is etched in my brain, I recall flying through the air, completely avoiding the rocks I had to scramble up to get to the top, in preference for the aforementioned Road Runner style just keep running horizontally until gravity takes hold. I had some vague idea I was heading for the boat as I do believe I was fully clothed and perhaps Ian was starting the boat in great haste to get out of the way of some lumbering great oaf - the seal - though probably also me. I had thought while making my escape that the seal would also be in full flight and possibly land on top of me. I was quite surprised and obviously relieved that it was not and gladly spluttered into the boat. These things move surprisingly fast over the ground and it clearly had the nouse to know that once I had literally taken flight it could go back to snoozing without needing to leap, get wet and clamber back up. No Bear Grill am I and clearly the whole top of the food chain thing requires a few tools of the trade and some determination rather than simply and suddenly appearing up over the edge of a rocky outcrop to view the fauna. All knowledge of seals in pots seemed to have been forgotten.

I have thought of other trips tripped in said little red boat venturing into near oceans to islands with ONE thankfully very reliable motor!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. sounds like a fairly heart-stopping moment! One of those stories you can tell ... amazing what the human bod can do at times ..? Great your cousin remembers all!

Cheers and I love the photos - and just being able to wander along the shore looking at the seaweeds et al in the pools and tidal areas .. Hilary

Jan Morrison said...

we often see a seal or two when we go out the bay in our canoe (or our wherry) but we don't get that close. I hate scrambling around on wet rocks - I usually stay in the canoe when Ron sees a treasure - always the same thing - a bit of rope. He's a strange one! Thanks for the wonderful story and I'm glad Richard is still in one piece!

sue said...

Richard - That's it Road Runner - that's what you looked like - oh, gosh, it was brilliant! I remember thinking the seal would really do you some serious damage. You'd only need a bump from one and you'd fall and get squashed in a terminal kind of way. They're fast! I don't think I mentioned that. Gosh we had fun didn't we :D I's so glad you found the post. Hugs. xoxo

Hilary. It WAS heart stopping. Even though I've put a lighthearted spin on the story, it was extremely concerning.

Jan. I love the word wherry, it conjures up 'romantic' images of days gone by. Funny about bits of rope, we seem to have a collection of them too. I always seem to return with pretty bits of shell tucked in my pockets which mostly get taken out before going in the washing machine.