Friday, May 15, 2009

Not Just Another Trip Around Flower

Most of the times I'm out in a kayak alone, it's in Cadboro Bay. I salute the Buddha, play in the little rock garden for a while, and go out to Flower Island, just off the point.
Sunday, May 10, I wasn't out alone ... not at first anyway. I launched with Richard and we found my partner Bernie testing his yellow wooden kayak in Sheep Cove. Meeting as planned, we headed out towards Cadboro Point. The current wasn't yet slack, so the water was moving a little in places. I told the guys to head on where they wanted, and that I'd go back past Flower, taking it easy.
It was a nice time, looking back to see them go to Jemmy Jones and then get blocked from my view by that bald little island. I faced water a little more rough than they did, in the shallows just off Flower where the low tide was making some reefs more obvious in today's version of the currents. Every day, the currents are slightly different and the eddies run wherever they decide to by some arbitrary system. But as Bernie noted on this website in a reply to Alison's post about paddling a Montreal canal, Rich ran with the current and hit 13 or more km/hr!
Not me. I drifted around the rocks near Flower and looked for sea life. Rainbow seaweed and little crab-things were the highlight of that quarter-hour, until suddenly something moved behind my stern.
Splash and howl! I guessed that a seal had come up to slap the water and tell me to get lost. But that was one BIG splash and one LOUD noise. I had my paddle back in the water and was stroking fast to get away by the time I peeked over my shoulder to see that it wasn't a harbour seal, it was a great big sea lion or elephant seal.
Faster! faster! and by this time I was saying out loud, "I'm sorry, you must be a mother, I didn't know you were here, I'm sorry!" And she surfaced again, blew out her breath and roared, honked, and howled at me, over and over again.
I have never been so glad to be in the Eliza, which moves much faster than the little inflatable Dragonfly. Not that either would have been much of an issue for Big Mama to bat aside if she chose. But she didn't, of course; she was instructing me on my bad manners, and stayed a few yards away, splashing her big flipper-feet and rolling up to the surface to roar at me and then duck under again. Rich could hear her noises all the way over at Vantreight Island in the Chathams, but Bernie was sheltered behind Jemmy Jones and didn't hear.
This isn't the first time I've caught a glimpse of of a big sea lion or elephant seal off Flower, but it's the first time that I've ever been noticed by one. My guess is that since the Eliza had been drifting in the shallows for ten or fifteen minutes, that Big Mama didn't know I was a human in a boat and must have been surprised to surface and see that I wasn't some big pink log floating there.
Memo to self: there may be a baby elephant seal or sea lion in that area, so don't get in the way of its mother!

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