Don’t wear a dress on a speed boat: Venture to Bird Island (Part III)

I was the last to get in; the water was perfect, refreshing but not cold.

We swam around the boat and through our goggles could view the sea bottom. One or another sea lion would swim below us.  There were star fish; Oscar even showed us one. It wasn’t very deep and there were colorful fish among the rocks.

We swam, and from under the water I could see a number of sea lions spontaneously come out to see us. Curious, not aggressive, but also not super friendly – just friendly enough. They would encircle us, or disappear – kicking up sand from the sea bottom as they sped by. There was no rush. We could stay there for quite some time.

So, we come to recommendation 3: If you know how to swim under water, DO IT! Be patient. Do pirouettes in the water, touch the bottom, spin, swim from one side to another and act foolish a while (you’re in their spot so don’t invade their space). You’ll soon find out the sea lions will start to come near.

Suddenly, one will allow itself to come close and spin to the right, or the left. I tried to imitate them and I guess they found it funny because they kept getting closer and closer.

You can hear barks under the water, and they’re not the same ones from above. There’s an entire communication there below; it’s like getting a glimpse of two worlds.

Later, “papa” came out and put everything back in order. The pups returned rapidly to the shore. I noticed he saw me and was swimming at a prudent distance…and I thought it better to get near the boat…he was an impressive macho.

I continued my sea investigation; discovering how much I could see on the floor bottom, and if I saw a sea lion I’d play around with him.

Little by little everyone got back up on the boat for lunch: burritos from Reggies for all, and I continued swimming.

At one point, I had a number of sea lions around me, playing. Even “papa” and two large females were out there, it was amazing! I felt like a child at kindergarten meeting new friends. Above the water they’d jump and below they swam in every which direction, like playing “tag.”

I would come up for air, take a breath, and go back down. I’m not going to lie, I did suddenly get scared as more large females joined in, but it was all fine.

Sami watched from the boat, “WOW! You’ve got them all there!” To which I jokingly responded, “they accept me as one of them now…” Though, honestly, I was hoping they wouldn’t. I’m allergic to crab, shrimp, and …basically everything they eat.

What I did remember was that I was hungry, so at one moment when I didn’t have any sea lions around me I got back on the boat. It was sad, like when you’re at someone’s home and you fall in love with their pet and you can’t take them home. Yet, everyone else was on the boat and I was the only one in the water.

They handed me my burrito (huge) and, once again seemingly from I don’t know where, Oscar brought out an inflatable kayak and oars. The boat seemed to be made out of the same material as Mary Poppins’ bag.

I later discovered the ice-chest, and therefore the bar: there below the seats – the right held water and soda, while the left held much stronger beverages. I asked Peter for a Dr. Pepper while Oscar put people in the kayak.

“The thing is,” winked Oscar, “you haven’t tried one of my margaritas…that’s why you got soda.”

“Ok, well then I want a captain’s recommendation,” I piped up. Oscar smiled and exchanged my soda for a margarita that, it’s worth pointing out, though it came premixed was served up pretty well.

Out on the kayak, things were pretty fun. As there was a loose cord, the sea lions would pull it to and fro, so the kayak ended up going around in circles. The younger girls didn’t notice it, so they thought they were doing something wrong. Nora, Sami’s friend, is the one who pointed it out.

Then, Sami and Nora jumped into the kayak, also failing to progress much. The sea lions had lost all sense of anonymity and arbitrarily took to towing the kayak. At one point, we saw a sea lion was happily enjoying being towed along, then they’d switch and carry on, like pups playing with ropes. Exactly like that.

At one point Oscar announced, “last round for a dip! We’re about to go.”  It was hardly possible to believe we had spent three hours at the island.

Hours pass, even though time appears to stand still and the sun not appear to move (though of course it surely did, subtly); and I had the strange sensation I forgot something.

Everything was stored back in place: anchor, kayaks, oars, life vests, fins, snorkels, and I don’t know what else. The seat was put back in place over the entry, and the boat was back to normal.

Here is where yet another of my recommendations comes in (number 4 I believe): take along sippy cups for the adults.

Oscar refilled our margaritas before beginning the trip back and, between one bounce and another, I completely bathed myself with it.  Sami’s friend appeared to have more class and mastery with the whole thing. However, at one point the captain saw what was going on and slowed down, happily announcing “Drink Break”.

The return, as always, seemed to be faster than the trip out. Still, it was about the same, around an hour.  We were all tired and sunkissed; Oscar had to make it back for a sunset cruise, extending an invitation for us all to come back for the sunset cruise (on the catamaran with the net). But, well, it was Thursday and there were still things to do. This excursion had been a “coffee break,” albeit a five hour coffee break.

I enjoyed the trip, really I did.  I didn’t get dizzy, I played with the sea lions (through childlike fascination); I went along for work and ended up fully enjoying the journey.

I didn’t take as many photos as I would’ve liked, but if I had I would have concentrated on something else and not on living in the moment. I know we would all love a “selfie” of this, evidence of that, and a “selfie” from way out there…still, what really stays in your memory is what you do and experience.

Remember when I said I had forgotten something? Well, I realized what it was when we were back at the docks. As Oscar said goodbye and brushed his arm against my shoulder I felt a burn, I had forgotten to put on sunblock when I went out to swim. Consequently, I transformed from a soft office white to a succulent red lobster, sensation which I managed through for about a week.

So, the fifth, last, and most important recommendation: remember to wear sunscreen!

Did you miss Part I or II of the journey?  Check here — Part IPart II

Del Mar Charters offers sailing, sunset cruises, seasonal whale watching, snorkeling, kayaking, and sport fishing charters…plus unforgettable intimate experiences to Bird Island. Find them near the docks, with the diving logo painted on their front office.

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