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Expectation and Reality

After our lovely few days at Avalon it was time for us to start making our way south again towards Ensenada. We had an uneventful but pleasant trip to Oceanside where we were stopping for the night to top up water and batteries. Navigating our way through the channel was no problem but we couldn't find the dock. Well, we could find plenty of docks but not the one we were supposed to be at. We called in to the port and found we'd passed it already, so we turned around and came to a rickety narrow pier at the very end of the dock inhabited by about 10 rather large sea lions basking in the sun.

Ordinarily I'd be thrilled at the prospect of wildlife so close and would have been taking lots of pictures. Not then though. The wind was pushing us away (yes, that old chestnut), we had to dock the boat and I didn't fancy jumping onto the dock with a few thousand pounds of sea lion getting all shirty about being woken up. So I yelled a bit and flapped my arms about, and with a backwards glance and a collective bark of condemnation, they slid into the water, I jumped onto the dock and lickety split we were tied up and ready to relax. I should note here that the sea lion colony seemed to be a local attraction because there were about 20 people watching from the shore as we docked, we heard one little girl yelling “they did it!!!” and we got a somewhat desultory round of applause when all was said and done.

We've been to a few places now where sea lions on docks are an issue. They're so huge and noisy and have become a pest in many places. Dana Point had lined their docks with yellow buckets to discourage them, and Oceanside obviously had tried to mitigate the problem by building a lovely large platform for them to sun themselves on just off the dock, but unfortunately no one had sent the memo to the sea lions. The only occupant of the platform was a couple of whiny seagulls, which may go a long way to explain why the sea lions chose a somewhat quieter location.

It didn't take long for the sea lions to make their way back to our dock though. One by one they slipped through the water, jumped back on the end of the pier, snuggled up with their buddies and went back to sleep, except for a couple of rambunctious teens who spent the entire afternoon pushing each other off the dock before jumping back on, which really annoyed the crap out of Big Daddy sea lion – he was very vocal in his displeasure of their juvenile antics which the teens completely ignored and carried on with the rough and tumble regardless.

Having moored and with an afternoon ahead of us, Darrin decided to explore the town and I decided to take a nap. Off he went, shooing sea lions off the dock ahead of him (they blocked the only exit) until one took exception to being moved along and snapped at him in no uncertain terms. 800Lbs of sea lion is a bit intimidating, so Daz made a run for it, got onto dry land and off he went.

All was very well and good for a few hours. Daz wandered, I read and napped and then he decided to come back. By this time the sea lions had taken over the dock again, the local sea lion watching audience had swelled somewhat, and Daz was sitting with them, which I found a bit odd. I pottered about on deck a little waiting for Daz to come back but nope – not a movement in the boat direction. I finally called him to find out what on earth he was doing and he said the sea lions were too aggressive and he couldn't get back.

What to do?

I called my parents of course. Because parents always have the answers. Told them Daz was being held hostage by a harem of sea lions and what to do to get him back on the boat? I certainly wasn't about to jump off to shoo them away. I'm quite sure that never in their lifetime did my parents think they would be asked to resolve a sea lion issue, but as usual they suppressed their surprise and pondered thoughtfully before suggesting I squirt them with the hose, see if that moved them. I was skeptical to say the least. Why would sea lions care about water? But in the absence of any other ideas, I got off the phone with them, called Daz to tell him the plan and went about hooking up the hose to the deck saltwater washdown pump.

I was a little leery of this idea. There were about 20 people on the breakwater watching the sea lions as previously mentioned and I didn't want to be in a situation of some sea lion loving activist calling the police on me for sea lion brutality. But it seemed the only option, so with no further ado I turned the hose onto them. Full blast. Big Daddy was NOT happy. They all barked and snorted and scrambled to get off the dock. Who knew sea lions were afraid of...sea water??? Daz raced down the dock and jumped on the boat quick as a flash because we could see them circling back to jump on again. One outsider went to the purpose built platform and tried calling his buddies over, but he was on his own, no dice with the others. No problem though, with Daz safely on board we settled in for a quiet night before heading out early the next morning.

It was a sleepless night aboard Eione. As the night wore on more sea lions joined the dock party and we felt like we were in a convalescent home for consumptives with all the barking and snorting and coughing they were doing. And the SMELL. We ended up having to close all the hatches because they were farting and shitting all over the dock too. Seriously, I've never smelled anything so gross as a sea lion fart. They were so shameless about it! We decided we would leave at first light because we weren't sleeping anyway. Which was a great plan, except for sea lions. We couldn't get on the dock so we couldn't untie our lines. And they were covered in shit anyway so who would want to touch them? Out came the hose again, the engine was turned on, Daz donned some gloves and we blasted them with the hose. The noise was deafening with all the barking and splashing and kerfuffle going on.

I stood guard with the hose to repel any errant pinnipods while Daz untied the lines, jumped on the boat and backed out of the slip faster than I think the boat has ever gone before. We couldn't wait to get to the comparative serenity and sea lionlessness of the San Diego transit dock.

And so we come back to expectation and reality. We had expected to tie up and have a reasonably quiet night in the safety of a marina. The reality was a rickety old dock covered with incontinent consumptive sea lions.

Oh. And to make matters worse we actually had to PAY fifty bucks to stay there!

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