This little guy and his mum are river otters we spotted playing in a dinghy in Snug Cove. They aren't the otters in the tale I'm about to tell, but they were characters in their own right. They didn't give a hoot that I was standing two feet away clicking photos as fast as the camera would take them. They were engaged in their own business and I didn't figure in to their antics. Except as a focus for the little one's hamming for the camera.
The Great Otter Attack, however, occurred in the Gulf Islands. Degnen Bay. It began with petroglyphs. We'd read in a guide book that the approach to Degnen Bay had a spectacular, if hard to find, petroglyph marking the entrance to the bay. The island itself had several stellar examples of ancient petroglyphs. We thought that sounded pretty cool, so off we went to anchor in the little bay. The spot is popular with people who live on the island, so the bay is full of boats on mooring buoys. We found a spot in shallow water where we could safely put down an anchor and pull up our dagger boards. After a pleasant evening and a try out of the new barbeque, we closed up the boat and headed to bed.
Fast forward to o'dark sometime of the night. DH and I are sound asleep, when suddenly, three hearing cats (the fourth is stone deaf - she misses alot) materialized in the master cabin, jumping up and down on me in a panic. I awoke. The boat was rocking back and forth as if a power boat had come through at speed. Except I didn't hear a boat. THUMP. Something hit the hull and the rocking intensified. My heart answered that thump by knocking against my ribs. I figured the tide had gone out farther than we'd thought it would and we were banging against rocks. I spill out of bed and peer out the windows.
Plenty of water all around us. No more noises. No hitting anything, but we're still rocking. Frowning, I climb the steps up to the door and look out the back.
Something walks across the transom.
Every last bit of air gets sucked out of my chest. OMG. One of the cats got out and is locked outside! I glance over my shoulder. Three cats on the table watching me with huge, we're-freaked-out eyes. Erie's asleep in her basket in the aft cabin. Okay. Not one of MY cats...I glanced back out.
Something ELSE walked across the transom.
"There's something on the boat!" I hollared.
The DH pokes his head up to look at me.
That's when it hit me. Otters. The stupid otters were chasing one another between the hulls of the boat, bouncing from one hull to the next - which made us rock, then they'd shoot out the back, up the swim step across the transom and back into the water.
Apparently, the sight of me in my jammies was enough to convince them that playtime was over. They took off and didn't return. Once the initial burst of terror receded, the whole experience was pretty cool and we regretted not getting to watch them playing chase across our boat. On the other hand, we didn't particularly want otters on board - especially since we sleep with the forward hatch open and we could envision an otter falling through - into the boat. No way that would have ended well...No matter how cute the little buggers are, they're only cute from a distance. Really.
Petroglyphs? Never saw 'em. Walked all over that island it felt like. Never found the petroglyphs. Let this be a lesson: Don't leave the directions aboard the boat when you row ashore.