Leg 1 to Galapagos
Day 18, day 5 at sea
Our very first day at sea, we saw off the bow a school of dolphins migrating, in a single-file formation, hundreds of them, many leaping gaily high out of the water. They were a ways out but their forms could be seen clearly, even better with the binoculars. Then we saw two sharks, with 9-inch dorsal fin and tail fin tips slicing the water’s surface alongside our boat in perfect vertical continuity. (How do they swim so evenly despite the sea’s undulations?) I’m not sure on the next one, but I think we then saw a Jesus Lizard (they are native to Panama) running on water for at least 10 seconds, covering much ground (as it was running full-speed from god-knows-what.)
On the second day, we were treated to a dolphin encounter that blew the first one of of the water. All around us, a family of over a hundred again surrounded the boat, swimming and jumping, cruising just beneath the wave under the front of the boat, squeaking amongst themselves merrily, spouting from their blow-holes as they criss-crossed our bow. Some were huge (much bigger than me) and had rugged markings to prove their battle-tested status, others were tiny (read: babies) no bigger than a little dog. This went on for over an hour… needless to say amongst us we got some good footage, and eventually I experienced that weird moment when you can begin to take it of granted, and must get back to work amidst this generous ongoing spectacle. We hoisted Julian up in a harness to the top of the main mast so he could repair a cable, carrying the GoPro waterproof camera up so take a bird’s eye shot of us all (including the dolphins around us.)
On the third day I started reading Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and although I must admit it’s written a bit simplistically, say for third-graders, I enjoyed having whales on the mind. That night while on the graveyard watch (0100 to 0430) I enjoyed imagining the huge beasts out there, and that one could, in its enormous ability, snap our boat in two with a bite delivered from an approach on its back, mouth wide open and sticking up from the water, revealing two rows of gigantic and deadly choppers to do the job. I went to sleep with the majestic giants swimming around in my head, and would you believe that I was awoken at 8am by “thar she blows!” (or something akin to it.) Two whales off the aft deck splashed their huge tail fins in the wake of our vessel… I couldn’t look him in the eye, but without fear we exchanged a message of love that we will not harm each other under any circumstance. Finishing the book by lunchtime, I have to admit uncanny timing with this one.