SAN DIEGO — A surprising stowaway startled a man out on his boat in San Diego: A sea lion pup who decided to crash in a bunk, waking the owner with his snoring.
Michael Duffy, 48, said he was on his 41-foot Kettenburg boat “Elixir” at the San Diego Yacht Club when he awoke at 2:30 a.m. Sunday to sneezing and snoring.
He thought it might be a friend, crashing from a night out, but couldn’t find anyone. Once it got light a few hours later, however, he heard it again.
That’s when Duffy saw a 35-pound sea lion pup on another bunk, curled up like a dog on top of his board shorts.
“It was a tiny little guy, and I was kind of shocked, but he was basically asleep,” Duffy said, guessing it was a male. “Then he heard me coming, so he kind of looked up a little bit like when a dog is sleeping and you want to wake it up and it doesn’t want to wake up.”
Duffy said the pup was probably looking for his mom but found him instead.
Duffy grabbed his cellphone and took a photo of the pup, who had already jumped down onto the cabin floor.
“You gotta go buddy, go…go, go, go,” Duffy said, as he filmed, softly coaxing the baby sea lion back up the stairs, off the boat and into the water.
Duffy has been sailing since he was 6 years old and has grown up around the marine environment; he’d heard of sea lions getting onto boats, but going down below?
“Totally bizarre,” he said, adding: “Sea lions they can be cute, but they can be dangerous. You’ve got to be careful it’s a wild animal.”
If the sea lion had been an adult, he would have stayed away. But, he said this pup was very well behaved and left no mess, not even seawater on his shorts.
“He was extremely well behaved, except for his loud snoring and sneezing,” Duffy said. “He was looking at me, and I was like ‘you gotta go.’”
He said the pup had an orange tag on its flipper and he believed it may have been once rescued after washing onto the shore, before being set free again. The baby sea lion appeared to be healthy and swam fine, and it was seemingly no stranger to humans.
Duffy, an advertising copywriter, said he nicknamed the pup “Gilligan” after the character on “Gilligan’s Island” who The Skipper called his little buddy.
“It was a very personal thing, and he was a very cute guy,” Duffy said. “But I was a little emotional about it. For that 2 ½ minutes he was my little buddy.”