Dolphins off the bow!
Trip Start Sep 27, 2008
20Trip End Ongoing
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For our last night, we returned to where we had started; that perfect uninhabited island. As we passed islands and reefs, Jim sighted a splash just ahead of us. We were about to sail through a pod of dolphins. He took the helm; like a flash I was on the bow. The group sped joyfully through the water beneath me, keeping pace with
Prism with ease. They jumped, crossed our bow, and were gone. We saw them behind us, playful and exuberant, somersaulting their entire bodies out of the water. We tacked and passed back through the pod; they returned to join in the game, and this time I was fast enough with my camera to get photos of them in waters such a bright blue they could come from a child's paint box. Nothing shows the speed, power and grace of a dolphin like standing above them on the bowsprit of a yacht flying at six knots, and knowing they could easily outswim you any time they chose. Five times we tacked, and each time the dolphins returned. On our fifth and final tack we knew we couldn't linger, the sun was getting low, we had to moor. The dolphins knew it too, they made one final pass, as if bidding us good night. Then they vanished completely, and the only ripples on the sea were the tiny lapping waves.
We spent our final night on the Great Astrolabe Reef drinking wine under the stars, staring at the waxing moon, and what we think was Jupiter. Tomorrow was another ocean crossing; it looked like the trade winds would take us and we should have an easy beam reach. We reflected on how pristine and unspoilt the islands here were. For the best part of two weeks, the only Westerners we had seen were Jason's family, and other folk on the dive boat. There were no other yachts, no other sails. It came as a shock the next day when I carried out my routine scan of the horizon and saw the shape of another vessel. My second ocean crossing was carried out under sail, with a good wind to carry us. With such a steady breeze we could set up the wind vane, which used the wind to set the rudder. Jim and I basked in the sun, read and kept an eye on the point where the sea and sky meet, but we didn't see anything else until we reached smoggy Suva and I had to contemplate a return to reality