I’m not sure why, but something about dolphins is iconic. The sight of them is both exciting and tranquil. Ask any sailor and it doesn’t seem matter how many times they’ve see them, every sighting is magical.
Dolphins have held a place of romanticism in my mind since I was a child and first saw the movie Flipper. Elijah Wood’s big blue eyes may have also added to the mystique and wonder of being in relationship with dolphins, but even as I grew older, the fascination with these held strong.
I grew up by the ocean, but managed to go 22 years without seeing a dolphin in real life. In fact, my first sighting of them was a continent away in South America. I had to travel from Canada to Peru to see my first dolphin. Well, actually there were two — two bottlenose dolphins fishing playfully in Paracas Bay as we left on our way out on a whale and bird watching tour. Ancient rock sculptures towered on the mountains beside us and dolphins swam in the crystal clear waters below us. It would have been idyllic if we hadn’t been seated right next to the loudspeaker on our tour boat. Still, I was dumbfounded by the fact that these majestic creatures were so closed to our noisy tour boat. But we didn’t get to hang with them for long. We were in search of penguins on the world’s largest guano-producing islands.
Almost eight years later was the next time I saw them. We were leaving Vancouver harbour on our new sailboat and on our first sail — ever! Just outside of English Bay we started to see fins popping out of the water amongst the waves and glittering sunshine. A whole pod of white-sided dolphins were heading into English Bay and we were so blessed to witness it! I took them as an omen that we were on the right path — that our sailing journey had been blessed.
It only took two years for us to see them the next time, and this time we finally had dolphins come across our bow! We were rounding Donegal Head on Malcom Island when two white-sided dolphins suddenly broke the surface right beside our boat. One and then the other before they continued on with their lightening speed. We could see them swimming beneath the water as they headed to our bow, and then broke the surface right at our bow. But as quickly as they arrived, they were gone again. I was literally jumping up and down with excitement. HOLY CRAP! THEY CAME RIGHT UP TO US! I had been dreaming of this moment for so long! I just wished they had hung out on our bow longer… that short visit just wasn’t enough.
I know these stories are pretty small in comparison to many of the dolphin visits that so many people have been blessed with on their boats, but any experience with dolphins just feels magical. Everything about them is incredible and joyful. I don’t think there has been a day that has gone by on the water that I haven’t hoped for dolphins to appear, and these small tastes of their presence has only left me wanting more. Fingers crossed the next time we see them they will play in our bow wake for a while longer!
Taryn, Logan & Max travel BC West Coast board their boat Papa Rumba. Visit Wayward Life Sailing for more!