At about 6:30 after work it hit me that it was a pretty nice day (clear and not too cold) and that I had a boat! I could...go sailing. I thought it would be a fun little adventure but couldn't have thought just how cool.
Fleece, Jacket, Pants, PFD, radio, cellphone, hat, sunglasses, SPOT, water bottle, banana, apple, and a jar of peanut butter. (always bring peanut butter). Bam in the boat. Bam masts up, rigging and sailing away from the dock at 6:45pm. 3 hours later I returned, a little changed.
It was chilly and my hands were cold. Gloves would have been a good addition to the list. There was a good breeze from the SE and I decided to just keep going till it was dark and then turn around. Normally that would seem like a bad plan but the sun was already nearly set and the river is pretty narrow so the chances of being lost are slim to none. I made it to the Flashing green #5 just outside of Vandemere (about 4.5 miles from the dock. I rounded the marker and started back. I made it about a quarter the way back on a light reach but the wind died soon there after. And the fun began.
It was just after twilight and the stars were out but the shore and water were illuminated by various streetlights with views of the water and house lights around the river. The boat was ghosting along and I was just sitting in the silence thinking about picking up the paddle. It was very quiet and still. I heard a sound and then another and turned to listen. I recognized the "pshh" as dolphin breath! I sat silently as more breathing came closer. They were too far away to see ripples but judging by the breaths and directions I guessed there were between 5 and 8 of them.
I heard the sound getting fainter and at that point I was very happy to have heard them and so many. I pulled out the paddle and started making my way back. Just as soon as I started paddling, the dolphins returned. This time they were curious. I guess because of the paddle noise and motion. They came closer this time. A LOT closer. At the height of it, there were at least 10 dolphin around the boat. 2 off the bow, then 3 in formation, 2 off the stern, but on either side as well. They were all around and within 2 boat lengths of me. I could hear them talking to each other as their squeaks echoed in the cockpit. It was like I was sitting in a speaker cone. Amazing. I have only heard this once before on board the WTP during my trip with Eye of The World.
I stopped paddling and could hear them breathing and talking all around me which probably lasted only a minute. As they swam farther away, I started paddling again stopping occasionally to see if I could still hear them. What an amazing 3 hour sail. Just when I thought, "crap, now I've got to paddle back" I was reminded what an amazing environment I have access to right outside my back door. It also occurred to me that with a small outboard, I would have been tempted to use it and get back to the warm cabin and would never have had a chance of hearing the dolphins.
I ended up paddling the last half of the return in a dead calm which was ok because the bio-luminescence in the wake of the paddle blade was incredible.