Wednesday, January 03, 2007

En route from Beaufort to Cape Fear, NC

Wind: NE 10 knots
Seas: 3-4 feet, with a four-foot swell

Two days before my birthday, and it’s another of those moments when my entire universe is perfectly aligned. I’m on the boat, Karl’s downstairs in the cabin sleeping, I’m writing in the cockpit. We’re under full sail, on a broad reach, the Master making a pleasant little whir as he steers.

And guess what? We saw more dolphins today. About an hour ago. Karl was sleeping, and I saw a flash off to starboard. I thought it was a fish jumping. Then, off to port, I saw a dolphin cutting smoothly through the water, maybe five feet from the boat. I made another of my gasps, loud enough to wake Karl up, and we both ran up and down the deck laughing and watching them play.

They were all around us, playing with the boat, I swear. One of them kept ducking down beneath the bow, then popping up on the other side. Two others started racing us, coming from behind, great gray shapes in the water. I was overwhelmed by how big they were, at least half the length of the boat. And how fast. The beat us, hands down.

They were so close that Karl laid down on the bowsprit and tried to touch them as they swam by. He saw one of their tails flick the hull.

We’re completely out of sight of land right now, only the second time, the first time since Delaware Bay. There are a number of things I’m worried about—how the four-foot swell keeps stealing the wind from the genoa, our inability to sail downwind, whether or not we can get around Cape Fear in the dark, coming into an unknown inlet with unknown tides at night (our tide tables expired with 2006), our second overnight passage, whether the weather will hold, and whether Karl’s unprotected solder of our computer cord will hold or whether the computer will die again, leaving us blind out here—but I know I’m doing something right. I live the kind of life where I sail with dolphins.

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