A brief cruise with a dol­phin pod

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - Anne Jean, Chap­tico

This is the story of pos­si­bly the first time any­one sailed with dol­phins on the Wi­comico River. The 14-foot cata­ma­ran had given us some me­chan­i­cal dif­fi­cul­ties, lead­ing to a one-hour de­lay. This put us right on sched­ule for the most amaz­ing sailboat ride.

We put in a quar­ter-mile up­river from Chap­tico wharf, head­ing west across the river in light wind. There were six of us on the boat, Sean Jean, me (Dan Jean), So­phie, Wy­att, Sam and Char­lie. About half­way across, Sean spot­ted the first two fins a few hun­dred yards in the dis­tance. As we drew closer, we re­al­ized there were more than two — many more. The pod was swim­ming south, and we were sail­ing straight to­ward the cen­ter of the group of large an­i­mals.

Wy­att (age 7) was very ner­vous; th­ese were full-grown dol­phins, and we were in their el­e­ment. Some were breach­ing just to breathe, some were jump­ing clear out of the water. We es­ti­mated their num­ber at 200, mostly full-grown adults, some a lit­tle smaller. Sev­eral started fol­low­ing our lit­tle sailboat, and some sur­faced along­side, tak­ing a peek at the oc­cu­pants of the yel­low float­ing boat.

We turned south to sail straight down­wind, go­ing along with the pod for about 20 min­utes be­fore turn­ing left to re­turn home. We were close enough to hear them breathe, which sounded like air be­ing sucked through a large straw. Af­ter turn­ing, a few broke from the pod to fol­low us for a few min­utes. One came along­side the boat and sur­faced, look­ing at us from 4 feet away; Sean could have touched it with his foot.

As we con­tin­ued back home, we watched them in the dis­tance as they swam to­ward the mouth of the Wi­comico.

Although not the windi­est sailboat ride, it was def­i­nitely the most amaz­ing.

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