We’re calling it the daily dolphin darshan (sacred viewing). These beautiful bottlenose dolphins come in scores to leap and play at the bow, their powerful tails swooshing to carve a path forward to surf Anthea’s bow wave, and then swerve out to gain speed for the next tack in. The water mid-ocean has a deep purple hue in mid-day, but in the evening, when the dolphins arrive, the light sparkles through lapis colored waves. Standing on the bow pulpit or lying on the foredeck, we watch these divine beings for a half hour or more. They swim close together, layered upon one another, and then swoop within inches of the bow. Some leap full body out of the water off our beam; one even managed a back flip yesterday evening.
We knew to anticipate the dolphins, but we weren’t quite prepared for our next guest: a red footed booby. This white feathered bird arrived on our fourth night out, swooping around and around our mast and looking for a resting spot. We’ve heard too many stories of broken antennas and wind indicators, so we raised a ruckus. Devon grabbed a spare halyard and started swinging it back and forth, creating a disturbance at the top of the mast, while he and I shouted, “No, no, no!” Anson’s contribution was to get his camera and track its flight around our boat, snapping “BIF” after “BIF” (bird photographer speak for bird in flight photos). Our ploy worked and the booby gave up, or perhaps, as we hope, the shape of our mast and the array of our antennas just looks downright inhospitable for a medium sized bird.
We had mixed feelings about sending the bird away. It was probably tired and in need of a rest. But we rely on our instruments for safety at sea, and so with a mixed heart we watched it flap slowly away. Several minutes later the booby found a solution that met all of our needs: booby on the bowsprit. The bird landed on the rounded rails, somehow managing to grasp a solid footing in the bouncy seas. It let Anson and Devon both creep close by on the foredeck, hardly giving them or Anson’s formidable lens a second look while it stretched its neck and preened. With a light blue beak and large red, webbed feet, the bird is a clown-like beauty. During Mark’s night watch, he’d shine a light forward and was reassured to see it sleeping with beak tucked under wing. We gained a fine feathered friend for the night, and we would have been delighted to host it for days on end, as long as it stayed on the bow pulpit, beak forward and poop dropping effortlessly into the sea. Dawn came and Anson only had a few minutes of photo opportunity before another booby circled the boat and our sweet friend flew away.
The brief sailing update: variable wind speed and direction make us work to keep the boat moving forward at a reasonable clip. Yesterday the spin went up and down twice, as did the main, and the jib flew with and without the whisker pole. Anson is our master of the foredeck, having learned from some of the best of the best last summer while racing on Kame Richard’s Express 37, Golden Moon. He runs sheets, guys, topping lifts, foreguys, jumps halyards, handles the massive spinnaker pole, all while the boat heaves and pitches in the seas. Sometimes we live up to his expectations and manage a spin raise with jib up (racer style) within five minutes. Not bad given that the boat was designed to be raced by 8 crew.
We’re still sleep deprived, and slatting and chafing sails are our primary issue thus far. We’ve learned from the radio check-in for boats sailing to the Marquesas to say: “Four souls aboard and all is well.” Kim
Latitude 15 degrees 58 minutes north
Longitude 118 degrees 50 minutes west