The wind was to be out of the south, but instead blew from the east. A large dark cloud covered the south of Bull Island in the distance. But with a decent breeze and the last of a flooding tide, I decided to do what I planned, and nothing more – just go sailing. I tacked out the creek on my way to Bulls Bay. The sky continued to darken, and the gust of wind and it’s turn to the south pointed where that cloud was going. But with the wind fair for the course, I flattened sail and hiked out, close reaching into the Bay. With plenty of water, I cut across the shallows along the southwest edge of the Bay (Shortcut Shoal). A couple of boats drifted here, and ahead a man threw a cast net as several dolphins swam by.
More dolphins appeared scattered across this shoal. Briskly reaching along parallel to the Bay’s edge, I was confronted ten yards directly ahead by an organized pod, a phalanx: at least ten of these marine mammals approached flipper to flipper. They dove, and I wondered and waited. The first one popped up almost directly underneath my hiked out body and startled nervous system, and shot ahead. The dolphin’s peers announced their presence by rising close aboard to leeward, windward, ahead, and aft. I was surrounded, but after the initial surprise of these powerful animals in such close proximity, I was aware of, and trusted, their benevolent companionship. It was such intimacy that upon the exhaled “blow” of one just feet to windward my glasses were sprayed with the expelled moisture. This encounter lasted longer than any I have previously experienced with bottlenose dolphins – an incomparable escort across the Bay. We were together in our element.
Did they know me? I wished I could have recognized them, and hopefully my powers of perception and familiarity with these mammals will allow me to some day. Jeopardizing this frozen time, I eventually made a tack over toward the Bay’s edge, and wondered if the procession would continue on this different course. No … it was over. I looked aft, and could see the pod scattered again. There was no change after a tack back, and I continued the climb upwind alone. However, the magic of those moments was indelibly etched into my memory.