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Safe Housing is Hard to Find

From the BookShelf Writers

The BookShelf Writers consist of four Estero Bay women who have been writing and critiquing together for over five years. For more samples of their work, please visit www.the

Each issue, this column will feature one of the BookShelf Writers: Debbie Black, Catherine “Kiki” Kornreich, Judy Salamacha and Susan Vasquez.

April 23, 2023

Safe Housing is 

Hard to Find

By Catherine “Kiki” Kornreich

Good grief, Carl. Why do you let Edgar yank your chain like that?” Martha was so frustrated with the tussles Carl and the other male sea lions got into. “Well, he and his harem keep hoggin’ the dock, leaving no room for the rest of us,” Carl said.

“Yes,” Martha admitted to herself, “the bay’s floating dock was getting too crowded.” The old-timers, sea lions, who’d lived in the bay for generations, were not very welcoming to the newcomers. Maybe it was time she took control, and searched for a new home for her growing family.

Martha swam up and down the bay, looking for a suitable place to relocate, and deep in the back bay she saw what appeared to be an abandoned boat. It had one of those little decks on the back that were easy for her to climb onto.

“Ooooh, this is perfect! Carl can be the king of his own dock! That’ll show Edgar!” Martha knew this part of the bay would be safer for her children, and much quieter for all of them. 

Martha swam back and told Carl and the kids about their new home, and they all eagerly followed her across the bay. Everyone could jump, and fit, on the small deck. Soon they were lounging, basking in the warmth of the sun, occasionally slipping into the water to frolic and cool off.

One of the pups soon climbed into the boat and discovered that there was a lot more room to play. So much to explore and even a room where he could hide!

Being so far back in the bay, Martha knew she’d have to travel further for food, but she was already a seasoned scavenger. She knew that Tognazzini’s tossed their fish scraps below the restaurant, and she knew exactly when it happened. Martha also knew where and when the fishing boats came in and dumped the delectable fish heads. 

Martha and Carl soon welcomed another pup into the world, and were kept busy teaching her how to nurse, swim, forage and stay safe. Martha was so content and happy, and she hoped this new home would keep them safe for years to come.

Due to months of severe weather, Chuck Davenport hadn’t been able to check on his boat, the Why Knot. When he finally took his kayak out to see if Why Knot had survived the storms, he saw that the mast had been broken in half, and his beloved vessel had also been taken over by a family of sea lions. 

Chuck tried to approach the boat to get a closer look, but the sea lions barked and hissed at him. Knowing he was incapable of getting them off the boat, he decided to return after they’d left of their own accord.

Chuck kayaked out to check on his boat a couple of times a week, and the sea lions didn’t appear to have departure plans. Keeping his distance, he kept track of their comings and goings, watching as the babies got bigger and more independent. As days turned into weeks, Chuck realized he was getting quite attached to and fond of his wet tenants, and the sea lions seemed to accept his visits, too.

He knew it was going to cost him a great deal of money to replace the mast, and even without climbing on board, Chuck knew that there was a lot of other storm damage, and wear and tear inside. Chuck decided to scrap the boat, and to let the sea lions squat until he had enough money to haul it away.

On a calm and sunny morning, Chuck kayaked out to his boat to say farewell. Not just to the Why Knot, but also to the sea lions. He hoped they would somehow intuit that they could stay.

He found the sea lions basking on the back platform, the adult female with her back arched, nose pointing up to the sun. They no longer reacted when he floated next to them, and as he sat there, enjoying the tranquility, they all reached up, waving their flippers in unison, and he knew they were safe.

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