Posted on 08/11/2017 to World Cruising
For the second day in a row, I started my morning up the mast. Our lazy-jacks are old and frayed, now more of a hindrance than a help, so we decided to cut them down. No problem, job done in a matter of minutes. I hung out – literally – at the top of the mast for a little while, bracing myself against the swell accentuated by height, and took a few photos of Haji from above. Once I had had enough, I called out to be let down. Haji has steps running all the way up the mast, so my line is precautionary rather than climbing assistance, and I climbed down slower than usual, timing each step with the rolling of the boat. I had just maneuvered myself over the radar reflector when something caught my eye to starboard. “Turtle! Turtle!” I shouted excitedly. Unfortunately, not benefiting from my vantage point, the others all missed it. I descended the final feet chanting childishly “I saw a turtle. I saw a turtle.”
Although disappointed to have missed our chilled-out friend as he drifted by, the rest of the crew were later rewarded with a more spectacular marine life sighting.
“DOLPHINS!” The familiar call emanated from the Bosun’s ample lungs, loud and clear for us all to hear. Feet scrambled forrard along the decks, jostling for position at the bow. I grabbed the GoPro, Devin slung the camera around his neck.
It doesn’t matter how many times we have witnessed dolphins in the wild, it is a spectacle none of us ever want to miss. Be it a short play around the bow, Spinners putting on a display off the beam, or shear numbers, dolphin sightings never (and I mean never) fail to amaze and delight me.
We started off with twenty or so big Atlantic Spotteds speeding alongside. They assembled at the bow and proceeded to hold a ‘who can swim faster’, ‘who can jump higher’, ‘who can splash the humans’ competition. They were soon joined by the rest of the pod, who came flying in from all around us. Every direction you looked there were dolphins. We spent a good half hour amongst a pod of roughly one hundred, taking countless photos and videos – as always. Eventually, as the sun sank below the horizon, their numbers dwindled. We retired for dinner, left with that sense of peace and joy dolphins always seem to instill in this particular crew.
Night watches began, and the wind slowly died. Entry after entry in the log reading ‘painfully slow’ as our speed dropped below 4 knots. At 6am, I handed my watch over to the Skipper, who finally made the decision to run the engine; the realistic option if we want to attempt to make the finish line by close on Sunday.
The rhythmic purr of the Beta Marine lulled me quickly to sleep. Next thing I knew, I was being shaken awake, Dad stood at my shoulder hissing “Freddy*, Pirates!”
Dev and I scrambled out of the forepeak and into the cockpit. Indeed, close by was the smallest pirate ship I had ever seen. I eagerly trained the binoculars on it, watching for movement, or signs of attack.
“They have been following us,” Dad/Skipper explained, “every time I change course, they change course.”
The four of us lined the deck, looking imposing, sending out the message that we were not to be messed with. I was itching to fetch my own Jolly Roger, stashed away for just such an occasion. Haji continued to glide seamlessly through the still water. No attack yet. We waited. They stayed put. Clearly we were too intimidating.
As we eventually swept by, we noticed the fishing rods and filleting knives. But you know what? They could just as easily have been cannons and cutlasses.
Seeing that my expertise in close-quarter battle were not immediately required, I returned to my bunk for a few extra hours. No rest for the wicked as they say, as a mere half hour later we were back in the cockpit watching Devin reel in the first catch of the trip. That new lure and line must have paid off, judging by the handsome Mahi-Mahi pulled alongside. I shuddered at the ‘fun fact’ Dev had shared with me a few days previously: ‘Mahi-Mahi are very loyal and mate for life. If one is caught, the other may continue to follow the boat for miles, often ending up caught itself.’ somethings you’re better off not knowing, hey?
The little guy was netted and brought onboard. The mandatory photos were taken, and the fish was measured for our current fishing competition being held between boats. However, he was deemed a little on the small side to feed this growing crew of four, and the decision was made to release him (somewhat to my relief). The guys went about setting him free, as I squealed at them to hurry up before any damage could become of him. Finally, he flopped over the side, and I watched anxiously for him to swim away.
Although we may not be eating a fresh fish dinner (I think I shall serve pork in white wine and cream sauce if anyone fancies popping over) we have had an eventful couple of days. Now, we wait – almost patiently – for the wind to return. The only upside of the calm seas being that all crew members managed a rinse under the solar shower!
*Dad has called me ‘Fred’ or ‘Freddy’ for as long as I can remember. I do not know why. My name is Amy.
— Some creative liberties may have been taken in the writing of this post —