Saturday, January 21, 2012

Happiness is a Warm Dolphin

We left Belhaven, North Carolina, at 8 AM Friday morning.  The weather forecast wasn't the best.   Wind out of the west at 15 to 20 MPH.  We'd have to travel up the Neuse River, which is a large body of water and runs east-west, which would mean rough water.   We decided to go anyway and tuck in at Oriental.  Red sky in morning, sailor take warning...

I'm a data junkie. I want to know the wind speed, the barometric pressure, and the dew point.  I need to know the temperature where we are, where we've been, and in upstate New York, where we lived. I want to know my lat/long.  I love to navigate.  Steering bores me, but moving a Navi-Nut (patent pending) along a chart is a rush.  I use two paper charts for the ICW, the Maptech paper charts plus an ICW specific flip chart.

Why two charts?  Isn't that like wearing a belt and suspenders?  Well, the big chart gives me an overall view of where we are and where we're going, while the flip chart condenses everything down into a concise view.  In addition to paper charts that cover the entire eastern seaboard, we have $12,000 in electronics that tell us exactly where we are and what's around us.   I especially like the Simrad 12" touch screen display that overlays radar and AIS data onto the chart.  It is totally awesome.  Yesterday, while traveling down Adams Creek, I could see a large commercial tug and barge coming around a bend before I could actually see it.

I love cruising on rivers and canals.  There's always something to look at, even if it's only fishing boats.

We came across a sad reminder of the power of nature and how quickly one's dreams can come to an end.  Hurricane Irene.

The wind was blowing five to ten MPH, lighter than forecast.  When we got to the Neuse River, it went completely calm.

Nary a ripple.  And we were making great time as well.   We passed by Oriental at 12:30.  It seemed silly to stop, so we decided to push on to Beaufort, another 30 miles away, calculating that we'd arrive around 4 PM.  That would be a long day for the dogs' bladders, but they were behaving well. 

We left the Neuse River to follow the ICW down Adams Creek.  The current was with us and pushed us from our normal 7.5 knots to 9.  We were flying!  We were flying until we got around five miles from Beaufort, when the incoming tide slowed us to 6 knots.  Ugh.  It was then, though, when we saw something break the surface not too far ahead of us.  Fins......  ray?   No, dolphins!  

There was one, then  two, and then four!   One group would peel off and another take their place.  I don't know why dolphins love to swim right in front of boats, but it's very cool that they do.

I ran up to the bow with the camera and took a couple of pics, and then ran back to take the helm so Pam could see.  Pam was totally enamoured with the dolphins.  While she watched them, they watched her.  She whistled to one, and as if on command he did barrel rolls for her.  She could see the dolphins looking at her.

"Look", said one dolphin to the other, "I told you I could make a human come look at us."

"Do you think they're intelligent?"

"Hard to say.  Don't think so.  They're too easily entertained.  Let's do a barrel roll and watch her clap her flippers, and then let's go catch some fish."

The dolphins followed us all the way past the Beaufort bridge.  They were very entertaining.


  1. One of my favorite memories of life in the Navy was being up in the conning tower of the Chicago watching the dolphins run up along either side of us and power jump over the bow waves (think of a surfer with a motor on his board powering himself up the wave heading out to sea). It was very humbling to see these beautiful animals able to easily outmaneuver our state of art multi billion dollar submarine, and seemingly have fun doing it.

  2. We too are fans of dolphins. When they're in front of the bow, we're sure they're getting a good back rub from push of water. They do seem to turn up to look at you, see if your watching and want to communicate. We love them. It's very hard for us to order Mahi - Mahi at restaurants, although they aren't bottlenose, they are still dolphins.