So there we were, sailing along quietly along the Florida Keys (islands) towards Marathon. We had just put up the inner jib, which had a lovely shape and was pulling us along well. The slot between the jib (the sail at the front) and the inner jib was full of fast-flowing air literally sucking us along. Once again I marvelled at how 16 tons of steel can be drawn silently through the sea at running speed by a few square metres of canvas.
Certainly the wildlife appreciated the lack of engine noise. Just as I was adjusting the foot of the sail I heard a splash and some odd noises. Glancing over the bowsprit I saw them: long lithe shapes beneath the water racing ahead of Curlew. Every now and then they would cross the bow-wave and surf ahead of us. “Dolphins!” I cried, and Gina came running to see them too.
We watched them for about an hour. Soon they were joined by a mother and a baby dolphin, and the pod of eight criss-crossed the bow-wave. I had read that dolphins enjoy surfing in front of sailboats because of the lack of thrashing propellors. Certainly they were communicating with audible squeaks, and they appeared to acknowledge our presence.
It sounds sentimental, but I have to admit to feeling a jolt of joy whenever they leapt out of the water. I wondered why we don’t feel particularly fond of scaly fish. Certainly I felt aware of a mammalian intelligence, and when I caught a glance from one dolphin’s eye I was quite sure of it.
They left after about an hour, and I felt so lucky to see the surfing dolphins.