My friend, Angie, comes from a family of swimmers. She grew up in Ireland swimming in the River Shannon with her brothers and sisters and in the sea with her grandmother, who swam every day.
Her sister, Darina, who kindly put us all up for the night at her lovely house in Sebastopol, is also a sea swimmer. And for today’s swim, we joined her and one of her swim friends, Casey, at Doran Beach where they regularly swim. The Doran Beach Dunkers, as they call themselves, swim each Thursday, but Darina and Casey made the trek out to join us today.
It was a beautiful day and Doran Beach, which sits on one side of Bodega Bay, was teeming with families barbecuing and playing in the sand. There were people fishing and kayaking, but no one was in the water except for this guy:
Our enthusiasm burst like a balloon at a porcupine convention when we saw that seal. I have an irrationally strong fear of swimming with seals (or sea lions, which may actually be what our friend was). Dar and Casey were surprised to see it; in all of their time swimming here the seal and sea lions sightings are always at a distance.
Eventually, it swam away and we crept our way into the water. It was glorious, cold, and beautiful. We had a few blissful minutes before noticing that the seal was back. It was still at a distance and so we decided to swim close to the shore. It kept coming nearer and Arwen, Angie, and I (the chickens) swam all the way to the beach, keeping our eye on the seal. Then we saw that another seal was coming up behind Arwen, who was so focused on the seal in front of us that it took several shouts of warning before she noticed and scrambled out of the water altogether.
Sheila, Dar, and Casey were still in the water wondering what all the fuss was about. Soon they realized they had a seal between themselves and the shore as well as one creeping closer behind them. They slowly made their way in and the seals swam harmlessly away (of course they did—as I said, my fear is irrational).
We weren’t nearly done with our swim so we got back in and swam around near enough to the shore to feel brave. The seal came and went, but I finally began to accept he meant me no harm and enjoyed the water.