In the Hole

April 3, 2014

…the Hole in the Rock, that is.

Now, when this option first appeared on our itinerary, I’ll readily admit I was more engaged by the ‘Dolphin Cruise’ part of the advertised tour than ‘…and Hole in the Rock’.

(I mean, really – wouldn’t you rather spend ALL your cruise time viewing dolphins at play than going “…yup…that’s a hole allright. A BIG ‘un, too.”)

That was my thought, at least. And so snagged by the promise of dolphins, lured in by a boat ride on a scenic-sounding Bay of Islands, and unimpressed by the concluding Hole in the Rock offering, I’m one of the first to admit that the real amazement of the boat journey rested more on Hole than on Flipper.

Oh yes, we saw dolphins. Numerous pods of ‘em.

At first we were dubious, given the revving boat engines and line-up for immediate departure of no less than THREE tourist boats heading out at apparently the same moment in time (…either that, or an unofficial boat race had been arranged that no tourist on board knew about).

Competing Cruisers
“Gentlemen…start your engines!” (And being the least touristy of the bunch, with far less bodies on board to weigh down the start, I think we WON….)

But be that was it may, the Bay was apparently large enough for all of us and then some and the scenic ride out was simply gorgeous.

Even if I did covet my neighbor’s isolation when steaming past a sailboat that was all by itself in Paradise.

Sailboat at Anchor
Sailboat: “…nothing to see here; move along now…”

Soon we were viewing dolphins that had nothing better to do than cavort and play around the Tourist Boats (either that, or they were richly paid in fish dropped out a porthole). A mama and her baby were the favorites and popped up for numerous looks at the cheeky tourists.

Mama and Baby Dolphin
“Now Frank, take a GOOD LOOK. I’ve heard they are GOING EXTINCT.”

Even Mr. Bill conquered his tendency toward seasickness to gaze with rapture upon the plethora of pods:

Tourist Watchin

But it was the Hole in the Rock that proved the biggest surprise of the day.

Hole2
So what’s so great about some hole in a rock? Just this: with any luck (and careful navigation), your tourist power boat can ACTUALLY SQUEEZE THROUGH.

Hang On To Yr Hat Bill
(…insecure about the low ceiling, Bill hangs onto his hat midway…)

Now, I am certain the captain did this at least once a day – maybe more. He had ‘high drama’ down.

First, there was Circling the Hole, to view it from different angles all the way ‘round.

Rock with Hole

Then, there was Hole Assessment. Could we REALLY fit in there?

Rock with Hole
Unlikely… We ARE talkin’ tour boat, not canoe, here!

Then, the customary engine revving right in front of the hole, with loudspeaker mention that “…it just may not be possible today, with the wind.”

Then, with a final thunderous revv of the engine – we speed recklessly towards it. (The screams of some of the ladies must have been VERY satisfying music to a seasoned tourist captain’s ear. And Bill says it apparently is NOT ‘ladylike’ to hop up and down loudly screaming “Yeah, baby – GO FOR IT!”)

In the Hole2
GOIN IN!

In the Hole
“There’s the WALL!”

And finally, looking Outside from In…:
Looking Out of Da Hole

Hole in the Wall.

It sounds so boring…it was so NOT boring!

A final note: given U.S. insurance agencies it would NOT be possible to duplicate the Hole in the Rock pass-through experience in the good ‘ole USA.

Can you IMAGINE the paperwork at Allstate Tourist Insurance?

“…you want to do WHAT with the tourists???”

Obviously you have to leave da country if you want to take ANY risks (including rolling down a hill in a huge hamster ball – likely another insurance company ‘no-no’ here…)

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