20 April 2010

Jumping Dolphins, Batman!

I'm finally down on the Manatee River, anchored off the fantastic Regatta Pointe Marina, in Palmetto, FL.

As long time readers know, I like to give a shout out to businesses when they give exceptional service. I don't do this often, but the Regatta Pointe Marina really deserves the mention. The dock master's are super friendly and helpful, and the facilities -- some of which they have been kind enough to let me use -- are really superb. If I had the time to hang out here for a few weeks, I would be very happy to. As it is, they are helping me get prepared for my next leg, and I really appreciate it.

If you are ever in this part of Florida, they are well worth a stop.

At the moment, there is no wind, so I'm taking the time to catch up on some chores, including blogging and work. Yes, I do need to work on this trip. Luckily, between my solar panels, lap top, and cellphone connect card, I've been able to get online pretty much any time I needed to. Electricity and bandwidth are still in relatively short supply, so I haven't been watching any online movies, but am able to do most everything else.

We've come along way with computers in the last 30 years. Amazing.

I also dealt with a problem that has been festering for the last few days -- literally.

During one of my offshore passages, I slipped down the companionway ladder, banging my shin in a new and painfully dramatic way. It hurt like hell, but didn't bleed much, so I didn't think much about it.

But over the last few days, my right calf has been getting bigger, and bigger, and it's been hurting more and more. Yesterday, when I rolled out of my bunk, it pounded like an over-inflated balloon and I felt a bit light headed. Not good!

I had been planning to take advantage of the 10 knot northerly wind to make a run down towards Sanibel Island, but canceled those plans and took a taxi to the local hospital to get this problem checked out. I was starting to wonder if I'd broken something.

The good news is, nothing broken, but I had picked up a nasty infection. So it's a good thing I played it safe and saw a doctor. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be too macho. My policy is 'safety first', and I don't plan on changing it anytime soon.

On a much more interesting note, the first night I anchored in the Manatee River, I anchored off Emerson Point Park. This is a huge anchorage that was almost empty when I was there. There was just one other boat, and she was at least a half-mile off.

It was a clear, calm night, with a million stars in the sky. My kerosene anchor light was lit and hanging in the mizzen shrouds. I'd just taken a last peek outside and was tucked up in my bunk with a good book -- Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog...)

It had been a long couple of days, and I was probably doing more dozing than reading, so it startled me when I heard what sounded like a huge splash right beside the boat. Not a little splash -- a Bronko Nagurski-sized cannon ball splash!

Bronco Nagurski, of course!

I jumped out of my bunk, stuck my head out the companionway, and looked around. No Bronko swimming around the boat, smiling and waving his helmet at me. Nothing!

Weird, I though.

I shrugged, climbed back into my bunk and rejoined the boys sculling up the Thames.

Moments later, Kaboom! Another huge splash. I stuck my head out of the companionway again, but all I could see were the stars twinkling on the water.

But in the next moment, a moon-gray dolphin, at least 6 foot long, swooshed out of the water just next to my port side, took a good look at me with it's huge eye, and belly flopped back into the water.

Three more times the dolphin blasted out of the water to check me out. We are talking close eye-contact here, folks!

Then, I guess his curiosity satisfied, he was gone.

Never have I had such a personal, wildlife encounter. I felt like Bud Ricks!


Sandy and Bud

They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning,
No-one you see, is smarter than he,
And we know Flipper lives in a world full of wonder,
Lying there under, under the sea!

>>> Next Episode: Sidelights

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  1. I have done some sailing around dolphins and they are magnificent creatures. What impresses me so much about dolphins in the wild compared to dolphins in the theme parks - wild dolphins are RIPPED! In wild dolphins, every muscle in their bodies stands out. The theme park dolphins look downright flabby by comparison.

    That was a great dolphin encounter you had, John, unlike any I have had. It sounds very special.

  2. Sanibel and Pine Island Sound are my old stomping grounds. If you're looking for a great protected anchorage my favorite was Pelican Bay on the NE side of Cayo Costa (it's a state park). Or for a "Cheeseburger in Paradise" type of stay, pull into Cabbage Key just a few miles south. It's got a small marina and a unique SW Florida flavor.

  3. Great experience John - you never forget those. My experience was in the Atlantic, about 600 miles offshore at night in a blow. Four dolphins in perfect formation, like the Blue Angels racing along side the boat. They would charge towards the beam of the boat down the face of a wave and then make a 90 degree turn at full speed. They played with the boat like that for 10 minutes and then were gone.

    Thanks again for the great updates.

  4. Just finished reading through the blog. Thanks for sharing your experiences. The "how not to" approach is great. You have to learn from the mistakes of others, life is to short to make them all yourselves. Now I am looking forward to following your journey.

    Fair winds

    Ulf from Sweden


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