Close Encounters of the Dolphin Kind

Monday December 9, 2013

dolphin at St. George's Cay

What can I say?  The weather has not been cooperating with us since we’ve been here in Belize. Actually, it hasn’t been on our side much ever since we went to anchor back in Rio Dulce. The only decent days we seem to have are the ones that we’re traveling.  Hmmm…

Although we probably could have taken the dinghy to shore here in St. George’s Cay and stroll the streets to see the Cottage Colony, a set of colonial white cottages bordered with gingerbread trim, we couldn’t muster up the energy to get the dinghy from the deck into the water, plus it’s been overcast and raining on and off, and we’re much more comfortable huddled in the boat with a good book and hot cup of coffee. I had been enjoying my coffee the past few weeks by making larger amounts in my Thermos brand french press, but then yesterday something disastrous happened. I had climbed down the steps of our ladder to give it a good rinsing in the salt water. Filling up the container, I washed all the remaining grounds out, and then went to rinse the filter/plunger part. I’ve found that giving this a good swish though the water is the easiest way to clean out all remaining grounds that stick to the filter. It was dipped in the water, rapidly moved back and forth, and before I knew what was happening I saw the little mesh filter and it’s metal plate become unattached and begin floating down through the depths of the water.

Had I been smart, I would have jumped in, clothes and all, to retrieve it while it was still in sight. Instead I let it sink lower and lower, and while Matt watched my face crumple, he started digging out our snorkel gear so we could dive for it. Quickly changing into our suits we slipped into the water and dove to the bottom. Normally you’d think something so shiny and alien in that environment would immediately stand out, but we had two things working against us. One is that we still haven’t gotten into clear waters yet. Even at 7 ft depths, we’ve never been able to see the bottom while sitting on deck. The other, is that the bottom of the anchorage here is nothing but fields of eel grass. It was thick and long, and there were plenty of places that my little filter could tuck away. After fifteen minutes we called off the search, my filter deemed to be lost at sea forever. It was a sad, sad day on Serendipity. At least I’ll always have my Clever Dripper.

storms over Drowned Cays

St. George's Cay, Belize

 All the cute houses lining St. George’s Cay

storms at St. George's Cay

Since St. George’s Cay now held such bitter memories for us (ok, that’s not really the reason, we just needed to keep moving), today was another travel day, trekking only 12 more miles north to Cay Caulker. This time though, I talked Matt into letting us little inner paths and channels instead of going back out to the Caribbean Sea. We trust the St. George Cut, but nothing we’ve read about any of the the Cay Caulker Cuts sounds too assuring. The first order of business was getting around from the east side of the island to the west. Flipping on the engine to avoid all the 3 foot shoals surrounding the island we began to motor toward the magenta line which would lead us between St. George and the Drowned Cays.

During our two night stay here in St. George’s Cay, we’d spotted a few dolphins crossing the anchorage, always getting excited and making sure Georgie also caught the show by hoisting her up Lion King presentation style, watching her eyes grow wide as she watched their fins cutting through the water. When we spotted them again this morning, we assumed they’d take the same path, crossing in front of our bow to get out to sea, and never looking back. Instead, much to our delight, they decided to follow us along on our journey, swimming up to the bow and riding in our wake. If you’ve been following for awhile, you’ll know that every single time we’ve seen dolphins so far I haven’t been able to capture them on camera because they either leave as soon as I go to grab it, or, like on our ride to Honduras, conditions were a little too bumpy for me to trust myself on deck with a camera. I was not about to allow this opportunity to slip through my fingers though, and positioning Matt in front of the wheel, I scrambled down the steps to grab my NEX-5 before they could leave us.

Standing at the bow I tried to get those perfect dolphin in the water shots, but when I realized my timing for pressing the shutter and their surfacing the water wasn’t always going to line up the way I wanted, I just kept the shutter button down, taking as many shots as I could and hoping a handful would turn out. When I had my fill, I went back to man the wheel and keep us on course while Matt went up on bow to have his fun with them. What we found out from him being up there is they seem to respond to praise, with high pitched “Yay!!”s bringing them to the surface. Maybe they thought we were tying to communicate with them? The more noise we made though, the more they seemed to jump up and attract even more to join the show.

Almost as good as the show from the dolphins themselves was Georgie’s reaction to them. We thought she’d be intrigued since she’s always sticking her head over the side of the boat as soon as anything makes noise in the water. A few minutes into Matt’s cheerleading session at the bow, he decided that Georgie also needed a front row seat and scooped her up to watch the real action up there. For a few minutes she stared on with curiosity, and then she tried her damndest to escape from his grip, taking shelter behind the safety of the dodger. Every so often she’d hear a splash on the side of the boat and tentatively stick her head around to see what causing the ruckus. She thought she was playing it so smart, using the fabric of the dodger as a shield for the front of the boat, until a few of the dolphins caught on to her and started coming to the stern of the boat and splashing around, completely catching her off guard and leaving her with no place to hide. Dolphin intelligence: 1. Cat intelligence: Well give her a half a point for trying.

dolphin at St. George's Cay

dolphins at St. George's Cay

dolphins at St. George's Cay, Belize

dolphins at St. George's Cay, Belize

 

 

You Might Also Like:

5 thoughts on “Close Encounters of the Dolphin Kind

  1. Quyen, don’t feel bad, it’s still rare for us to see dolphins. We were dead last of all our friends. Good luck on your next time out, hopefully there will be dolphins in your future! 🙂

  2. Coffee Machine?
    Hi – I have just discovered your blog. We will be in Sarteneja (N of Belize City) 21-24Feb, flying out from the UK on 7th Feb. Just a long shot – if you were in the area at the time (or could collect later) I could bring you spare parts or replacement coffee machine?
    We are visiting then travelling with our daughter who is currently based in PG at TIDE. Drop me a line if we can do anything but we would have to get something organised quickly.
    Peter & Margaret Baker

  3. Peter, thank you so much for the offer, that is so incredibly nice of you! Unfortunately, now that we’re in Mexico, our plans are only to keep heading north and east. That’s very nice of you though, we really appreciate the offer.

  4. Pingback: So Whadda Ya Wanna Know? | Matt & Jessica's Sailing Page

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge