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A STRANGE ENCOUNTER
Following my return from the memorial ceremony in Stinson Beach for Chuck, I was overwhelmed with coping with my own feelings, beginning the grieving process here, with many friends extending their condolences. Riding the ups and downs has been quite consuming. By today, February 1, I was ready for some soul renourishment so I took advantage of a beautiful sailing day to spend a couple of hours of quiet single-handing on Sarasota Bay aboard "ATTATA."
I tried to encourage enough wind to join me, as I set the sails, shut down the engine, and slowly embraced the light wind from the southwest. The silence was delicious, the wake was almost inaudible as I passed an anchored fishing boat that was being attended by a lone dolphin.
The fishermen were slowly left astern when I noticed that the dolphin had joined me. Not an unusual occurence, I was pleased with the graceful appearances as he came up for air.
The water in February around here is usually quite clear, and today was an outstandding example of water clarity. The dolphin was quite visible beneath the surface as he swam under the slowly sailing boat to emerge on the other side. He'd roll on his side, exposing his white belly as he turned.
The dolphin caught me. I set the auto-pilot so I could walk forward and look over the bow into the water. My dolphin assumed a position directly under the anchor, then swam from side to side as if checking me out. I began taking pictures, hoping that the flash wouldn't spook him. After remaining under the bow, he'd lazily dart off to the starboard side, race aft about 25 yards.... then rush back to his station ahead of me. A few maneuvers ahead of the boat as if trying to lead me somewhere, I felt.
We shared these intimate moments for over 30 minutes... thankfully there was no traffic and the channel is straight so the auto-pilot handled the helm while I handled my own spirit standing on the bow. Thoughts and feelings about Chuck filled me. How could it be otherwise? The lagoon-sense accompanied by the quiet was mystical.
Relish the NOW! This very moment. I was caught by the moment. ..and I myself had caught the moment, too. Like an unexpected opening in time, it almost echoed. Breathing was the best I could do for activity. I just remained there looking over the bow railing, tracking my dolphin and feeling my brother.
The wind freshened, I noticed that the dolphin was farther off to the starboard side, in the glittering sun-path to the west. "ATTATA" picked up speed, the dolphin was just a speck as he occasionally surfaced. I smiled and returned to the cockpit, to February 1, to dealing with Chuck's absence, and to getting on with life.