Thursday, March 24, 2011

hot hot hot

this painting is really close to being done.

Tonight's swim was a little stupid on my behalf, I think.

A tugboat was pulled a huge log boom right offshore, but there must have been a mechanical problem - the tug was barely moving and the whole thing was slowly drifting in towards shore. I didn't swim much, just lazily kicked out and watched as a fast aluminum boat roared up from Nanaimo (the nearest port), and pulled alongside the tug, presumably to help out somehow.

The stupid part was that I knew this was the exact time of night when the sealions cruise past, and I had kicked out right to where they usually pass by - further out than I usually swim in the winter.

I sensed movement to the left, and turned just in time to see the tail of a sealion diving and coming straight towards where I was.

I swam back towards shore so fucking fast - I had no idea I could swim like that. Huge back strokes, kicking my legs like I was biking up a mountain, and trying to breathe and push as steadily as possible, not erratically like a wounded animal.

I was doing the backstroke so I could see behind me, and the sealion surfaced about thirty feet away from where I was when I first saw him. Thirty feet is really close when you're talking about a carnivorous sea creature the size of a pony.

He brought his head about 2-3 feet out of the water and gave me a look and dove again.

I have a deep instinctual fear of large things in the water underneath me. I think it might be some primordial thing that all humans have - which is why the Jaws movie is so scary. Even a log under the water freaks me out. So this sealion action was no fun.

Every time I've seen the sealions, they surface very frequently, almost like you'd imagine a sea serpent. Every 5-10 seconds they resurface, then slide back under, revealing their long back and tail.

This time, as I swimming back to shore, the sealion did not resurface. I imagined that it was approaching me, or watching me from under the water. The waves were about two feet high, and I just imagined seeing the full body of that big ol' bastard bearing down on me in one of the rollers. I've seen what a seal can do to salmon, and I have no doubt that a sealion would kill me with one bite, no matter where he bit me.

In record time, my feet hit ground, and I stood and watched the waves, breathing heavily, but never saw the sealion again. I don't know if he checked me out under the water, or just submerged and ran like hell, like I did.

Either way, the whole experience gave me a good bit of perspective for what I'm doing out there every day.

And it reminded me that I'd really feel better with a diving knife.

(Also, the tugboat got fixed and made it away from shore).


  1. do these things really attack people? or is it just the freak-out factor cuz of their huge-ness?
    could they mistake part of you for a salmon or whatever? maybe they just act like that cuz they're ascared...maybe slowly ease up to them, speak to them, eventually become their emperor

  2. I have no idea if they attack people - I doubt they'd do it if they knew you were a human, but I was mostly worried that they'd think I was a wounded seal (and I'm not even sure if they eat wounded seals).

    I've heard that seals and whales orcas tend to hold each other under the water as a form of play - and (in Aquariums at least) I think trainers have been put in serious danger (or maybe died) from being held under. That's why I want a knife - without it, I have no way of telling a seal "I don't like this." I need one big tooth to bite with.

    Maybe I'll eventually get comfortable enough with sealions, but they're so huge that I don't think it's worth the risk.

  3. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaggg!!! Freaky shit!