Ryan is a morning person and I am not. Left to my own devices I would stay awake until 2AM and roll out of bed around 11AM. Ryan, on the other hand, is one of those people who is awake and ready to start the day at 6AM… every day. This made working out a watch schedule between the two of us pretty easy. He would go to bed around 8PM and I would stand watch until around 3:30AM. This worked pretty well between Santa Cruz and Morro Bay, so we decided to use this schedule as we proceeded south.

We rounded Point Conception shortly after sunset on the first night out of Morro Bay. The light pollution of Los Angeles was too far away to dampen the stars set out in a clear, moonless sky. I could see countless constellations twinkling as they wound their way through the Milky Way. A scattering of offshore oil rigs and my masthead were the only signs of artificial light. Ryan and I had just finished putting in reef in the main* when he told me to come look at our wake. It was glowing.

Behind us and below us was a glowing blue trail of bio-luminescence. As we glided through the water, we were disturbing the bio-luminescent phytoplankton causing them to glow. From bow to stern our waterline was lit up like ground effects. The sea was calm with one to two foot swells and the apparent wind was light behind us. I didn’t think it could get much better when in my peripheral vision I saw a streak of light through the water on our starboard beam.

I thought maybe it was just the swell hitting our beam at an odd angle. Then it happened again a little further off. The third time, I heard them breathe. Dolphins. I counted seven of them at one point. Each time they neared the surface they left a trail of bio-luminescence. Above me were the stars while dolphin comets surrounded me below.

I don’t have any pictures. I didn’t try to take any pictures. To photograph that moment would have required me to get out my nice gear, set up my low light lens and then, maybe, I might have captured a good image. The scene before me lasted a mere twenty minutes. It was magic.


1 Comment

  1. Dave Cuthbert Reply

    I love swimming in the dark waters at night. Same effect, but you see it hitting you head on.

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