“Ok everybody, we’re going to see if we can find the sea otter today! And since it’s just the one otter we see, I think he needs a name. I asked around on Facebook and got some Otto’s and Oscar’s, but if you have a name that strikes you, let me know!”
I presented this proposal to the upper deck of Ocean Magic II one morning last month as we puttered out of the harbour going 7kts. Just as we rounded the breakwater and the boat began to pick up speed, a six-year-old voice, almost lost in the wind, with a thick English accent, called from the back —“Wha’abou’ Harry?”
“Oh my god it’s perfect” flashed through my head. An outburst of laughter from the crowd sealed the deal, and the name has since stuck like glue. We were now on our way to see “Harry Otter”
Interactions with small children are something that make my experiences on Ocean Magic II unique from the zodiacs. In most other ways the trips are very similar. Both vessels reach the same top speed of 30kts; that’s nautical miles per hour for you land lovers, and equates to about 34mph or 56km/h. With the same top speed we have the same range as the zodiacs so we run very similar tours, and visit all the same places. We talk about the same things to our guests and stay the same minimum distance from the whales.
But zodiacs can’t take children under seven, because of their size, so families and babies are a big part of what makes my job special. Sometimes, like with six-year-old Joe who so impeccably imparted Harry with his title, the kiddies do most of the talking. More often than not we smile and nod patiently, and respond with requisite ‘uh huh’s as they speak, and then immediately turn to the parents for a translation. Mothers oblige with “she wants to know if there are any baby whales around” or “he’s telling you everything he learned about sea horses at the aquarium.” Often our quizzical looks at parents are met by equally bewildered ones; they aren’t born with an innate understanding of toddler speak! …“Err, something about dolphins… I think.”
Other times the children are a bit shyer, and seek to interact with you only through staring or making sure they are near you at all times. It wasn’t until the 3rd time I almost ran into him that I noticed a small boy named Nicolas and his father always seemed to be right behind me. “He wants to be wherever you are,” explained Dad, and I made a note not to move about as fast so his little legs could keep up. I eventually got Nicolas talking, but all he spoke were questions, which, once he posed, would patiently sit back and await their answers. When I had to return to my other passengers, he satisfied himself by sitting beside me, holding my hand.
Children so often contribute to a positive vibe on the boat as well. Their unbridled enthusiasm and unabashed squeals of delight make any whale sighting more exciting and encourage adults to not take the whole thing so seriously. It’s supposed to be fun after all!
Whether we’re taking out little kids, big families, teenagers, adults or seniors, we always have fun on Ocean Magic II. Don’t take my word for it, take me up on it! We go every day at 9am, 12:15pm and 3:30pm, or if you’re keen for a more in-your-face adventure, zodiacs depart hourly on demand.
See you on the water!
By First Mate Jen