Traveller's tales

Friday, September 29, 2006

Wonders of the deep

Talking dolphins !
Robert L Fielding
In the Gulf of Oman off Al Bustan)
Ten passengers and a driver (at least that's how K referred to the man sitting at the back of the boat) sailed (without any sails) out of The Blue Marlin yachting marina on Friday. We were hoping to see some dolphins out in the Gulf of Oman.
Sitting at the front (bows to you landlubbers) right and left, sorry, Port and Starboard seemed like a good idea till we got out of the calm waters of the harbour. Once in the open sea, it felt as if we were out there in the North Atlantic, searching for Moby Dick. The sea did more or less what it wanted with us, and what it wanted was destruction. It hurled the white fibre glass hull about like a cork. It swept over the gunwhales of the boat, (I'm getting into this nautical stuff now) and over us, and it did its unlevel best to make our lives uncomfortable. The Captain remained sensibly dry at the tiller, 'tilling' us across the blue till we spied dolphins. A few at first, then scores of them, adopted our boat as a sort of flagship. They swam alongside, dove swiftly in front of the bows from both port and starboard sides, playing "Last one across " kind of games with us. And we cheered them every nautical mile of the two hour trip. We marvelled at their sleekness and their prowess in the water, leaping out of the water in rows of up to ten or twelve sometimes. I wondered what kind of Red Arrow-like messages were going to and fro in the water either side of us to enable them to come up in exactly at the same moment.
Other boats full of mesmerized passengers floated past us from time to time. They looked astonishingly dry in such a heavy swell. We waved at them. They waved at us. And back we went to the enthralling job of dolphin spotting.
'There's some more over there," shouted someone pointing. All heads turned and the laughing and cheering started up again.
Why do dolphins jump out of the water? To take a look at the humans. To breathe. For the heck of it. Because they can do. And my thoughts on the subject; for the sheer joy of being alive.
Then came the cracks.
"What do dolphins do when they want a wash?"
"I can't come out tonight, I'm washing my hair." And "Do you usually go out with your hair that wet?"
Like all good things, the trip was over too soon. We waved the fish (or are they mammals?) goodbye, and sailed full speed back to the shore, to warming cups of tea, even more warming gentle sea breezes, and heartwarming memories of a great morning with those loveliest of God's sea creatures, dolphins.
Robert L Fielding

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