A Gusty Encounter

Island Notes 80

I start the morning asking myself, “Should I stay or should I go?”  No, I’m not singing The Clash’s phenomenal, 1981 punk rock song with that as a title.  Rather I’m pondering 19-knot winds, gusting to 22. (22-25 mph for you North American landlubbers).

But as The Clash continued to sing… If I go there will be trouble.  If I stay it will be double. I simply decide to cut my losses and head to the boat.

The first thing to go wrong is while swimming to Kotentu.  There is an amazingly strong current today that sweeps me north of the boat, and with dry bag in hand, it takes everything with a scissor kick and a one-arm stoke to get to the stern ladder.  I arrive puffing.

Then, while raising the main sail, a cleat that holds the sail down comes undone.  I break out my Leatherman tool and make the repair.  Is someone telling me something?  After all, 19-knot winds are the top of Kontentu’s range for controlled sailing.  I consider calling this off, but for only a heartbeat.  The sun is bright, the water blue.   The winds are ample.  Many of my friends are back in the States toiling at work this morning.  It would be a dishonor not to represent them on the ‘fun side’ of the day.  I cast off.

I decide to head into the wind and sail two miles south in the direction of the Flamingo International Airport.  Upon seeing its flaming pink terminal, I tack and head for the Plaza Resort’s Tipsy Seagull Bar & Restaurant.  The smell of morning bacon wafts from shore.

The run so far has been fine.  I think windguru.com may have set the wind velocity a bit higher than what I have met so far, but the day is still young.  I change my course to a beam reach and follow the coastline about 100 yards from shore.  When I look down into the cobalt blue water aside my boat, I discover I have company.  There is a pod of eight dolphins following my lead.  They race off the bow, to starboard and port, and give me a smile that feels like my face is cracking.  When the dolphins surface for air, they exhale an enormous ‘shoooosh’.  I make the identical sound when I break the surface after a free dive.  We are all mammals, deeply connected to the sea.  My smile grows even wider.

The Woodwind, a local trimaran, is just leaving the Divi Flamingo Resort with a deck full of tourists headed for a day snorkel.  The captain waves to me and sees my finned buddies.  Woodwind changes course to give the tourists a peak at the dolphins.  I sail on in gusty winds that force me to change my course abruptly.  I try to tell the dolphins my predicament and that I promise to set a straight track once the gusts subside, but it is too late.  Our navigational rhythm is been broken.  Our aquatic syncronicity has crashed. The love is gone.  The pod makes a sudden 90-degree turn and heads toward shore.  The Woodwind pursues.  I’m content with my ten-minute encounter and point home.

Should I stay or should I go?  I think The Clash had it right. If I go there will be trouble.  If I stay it will be double.

The only trouble I really encountered this morning of heavy wind was getting the grin off my face.  That is proof of a day well spent, sailing with the dolphins.

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2 thoughts on “A Gusty Encounter

  1. Fantastic! Listening to the whisper of intuition…(or the words to a great song, intuition appears in various forms!), when it is louder than logic, you’re on to something. What a reward.

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