wpe49D.jpg (7152 bytes)wpe49D.jpg (7152 bytes)CREATURED
August 2000 Edition

This First Edition of Anecdotes
Is Dedicated to the Memory of
Ginny Goodrich
And the Wonderful Way She Knew Animals

Strangers in the Night

~ 1973. When we set sail in our Morgan Out Islander 41 from Great Inagua, the southern-most of the Bahamian Islands, my calculations for the following day were to be through the Windward Passage and within eyesight of the south west tongue of Haiti with sufficient hours of daylight left to get a good compass bearing; there to alter course towards Jamaica. We opted to stay well offshore, coming only close enough to positively identify the SW peninsula of Haiti. wpe33.jpg (51810 bytes)

As occurs on sailboats, however, my "dead reckoning" navigational calculations were plagued by shifting winds and local squalls, which forced our wind-driven craft to tack frequently. To complicate matters, for hours at a time we were completely becalmed; and the ocean currents there were known to be shifting and unpredictable. Not graced by modern day satellite navigational devices (GPS), we continued under our best guess, gut-feeling "calculations."

Beads of sweat ran cold down my forehead and off my nose, hitting the marine chart with a splat, my feelings of uncertainty, amplified by the total darkness. The freshening wind caused our craft to quicken its pace. It was time for my 4-hour shift at the helm. Taking a deep breath, I shook loose the indecision. It was as if I could feel the invisible coast of Haiti almost under our bow.

The fogbank lifted abruptly and the message came through clearly, "Change course now!" I came up on deck and took the wheel, trimming our sails to the new course. The air seemed heavy and laden with resonance as my companion went below to get some well-deserved sleep. "220 degrees," I repeated to myself, "It's just got to be right." At that moment, I felt a strange presence, as the waters parted to my right, only 6 or 7 feet into the darkness. Pfuaa. An airborne dolphin exhaled, inhaled again, and slipped silently back into the briny deep. A streaming trail of bright greenish-yellow phosphorescence formed where my mysterious companion broke the water. It continued for several feet behind him. Suddenly there were more.

Mesmerized by the clicks and squeaks of their complex language, I felt exhilaration swelling up within me. There was nothing new about the phenomenon of the phosphorescent light. I had seen it many times, and knew that under certain circumstances, any force which quickly moved or agitated the plankton would produce it. Nonetheless, never before had I seen such superb contrast, timing, pattern, and form! The dolphins had come up from somewhere astern. Playful creatures that they are, well did I know their penchant for sporting and surfing on the bow-wakes of ships and boats. But this time it seemed to be a minded activity, mysteriously geared to my own subjective thoughts, needs, actions. There must have been four of them.

Swimming directly to the prow of the Morgan, they proceeded to jump, two in two, crisscrossing each other in the air, and then again underwater. They struck a course of 220 degrees true, weaving an eerie path of light which stretched like a luminescent arrow off towards the horizon, towards Jamaica. Then, in an instant, they were gone. Had they come to affirm my belabored decision? Had they tuned in to my previously anguished mind, grappling with the unknown? The utter beauty and uncanny synchronicity of the unlikely series of events left an impression of awe and wonder, a feeling of one-ness with the providence of a friendly and directed universe.

-JD Holloway

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Getting a taste of God's creation as it should be!

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