It can sometimes seem like we must be nuts, living as we do. The space limitations, the costs of maintenance, the everyday work just to keep the boat floating and working as she should. But, then there are days like today when it is all worthwhile. We planned a day fishing (Spoiler Alert: We didn’t catch anything!), and the fun started even before we weighed anchor.
Karen was sitting on deck enjoying her morning tea, when a convoy of about a dozen juvenile cow-nosed rays slowly “flew” past just under the water surface.
For quite a while, they didn’t actually go anywhere, but just swam against the current holding station with Harmonie. We didn’t know it at the time, they portended an amazing day of wildlife watching.
When we pulled our anchor, we made our way out of the southern-most corner of Delaware Bay, and out into the ocean. Motoring south along the coast of Delaware and Maryland. It was calm and the water was smooth. The distinctive dark ripples that mark a school of feeding mossbunker were everywhere. Soon, we saw a school of dolphin in the distance, herding a school of ‘bunker. Then another, and another. Every school of ‘bunker seemed to have their own school of dolphin herding them along as a swimming lunch bucket. At any given moment a hundred or more dolphin could be seen stretching across the calm ocean.
None of them ever came close enough to the boat to be certain of what kind they were. We can be pretty sure from the shape of their dorsal fins that they were not same the bottlenose dolphins we saw in the harbor.
After a while, the dolphin thinned out, and we saw a large log in the water. Or at least what looked like a log–until it raised its head, took a breath, and dove. A sea turtle! And not just any sea turtle, but a leatherback. The largest of the sea turtles, they can weigh over a ton. Yes, as big as your car. For most of the day, there was at least one large leatherback in view basking on the surface.
They feed on jellyfish, have a very distinctive set of three ridges down their backs, and they were everywhere! Most were a distance from the boat, but one was close enough to almost touch.
Returning to the harbor at Lewes at the end of the day was another totally magical experience.
The sun was low in the sky, flooding the world with the light that every photographer lives for. A brilliant rainbow stretched across the eastern sky and the resident bottlenose dolphin families converged on the boat to welcome us “home” as we carried on under sail right up into the anchorage to drop the “hook” for the night.
All in all an almost perfect day. The only improvement would have been if I had caught some fish!