Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Dolphin Symphony

A miracle of timing ...

The current voyage is one of the least taxing passages we have made. The temperature is mild, and the seas are mostly well-behaved. However, there are always reminders that we do need to keep a vigilant watch. On our passage to Australia this trip, an unlighted sailboat sailed right past us without acknowledging Larry who was attempting to 'raise' him on the radio. Just the other night on my watch the wind very suddenly 'spiked' at 0630. We could have gibed with serious consequences had we not taken in sail.

The inevitable result of standing watch for 12 hours every day is that one is very tired. SOMETHING happened the other night, and I still don't know whether what I think I saw really happened. Or was it part of a 'waking' night-dream - a mirage of miraculous hue and fantasy and the result of an over-tired imagination?

It happened just after midnight on a pitch-black night and I came out seeing a multitude of coloured lights moving rapidly through the water.

These were not just any coloured lights - they had a kind of 'aura' to them … when I think of them now, I remember seeing the types of spirals and fuzzy cataract-inspired stars that Van Gogh put into his painting 'Starry Night'. These moving lights were in shapes of all different sizes and they extended for different time periods. They were appearing everywhere around the boat - in front of, behind, and out to some distance on the sides so far out of range that they seemed to be moving just at the limits of perception.
One consistency was their direction … only running with the boat from the back towards the front. We were part of a school of playful dolphins.

How could one accurately describe the magnificent feeling of communion that I had with these animals, and the unity they had with each other? Even filming it would only capture a small portion of the overall experience. How to make sense of all these shapes - starting and ending at differential intervals - running for different lengths of time? each moving with incredible speed and yet delicacy - never making a false move and melding the overall sensation into one seamless and limitless-feeling stretch of time without the constriction of regular time?

In my unreal sense of over-tiredness, I imagined making a musical score matching each dolphin in size, coloration and glide-path to an instrumental line (like the instruments on an orchestral score). That way you could notate the length and time of each one as they played their way back into the music - even matching their size with higher/lower pitch and marking their relative volume. The easiest way to achieve reliable performance with a large cast is to use an orchestral score with assigned parts. And the seamless feeling of being outside the bounds of what we call 'time' is the feeling people who love music have when they're wrapped within a performance.

I'm now calling it 'The Dolphin Symphony'.

Reminiscing about the experience, I can only say that the time is still engraved on my memory - it seemed to meld together multiple artistic senses. The coloured 'lights' were really the phosphorescence shimmering off each of the dolphins as they flew through the water. The verdant colour of green seemed to be a combination of the grey-sided dolphin, the seawater and the phosphorescence - it reminded me of the green in some of Monet's paintings. The dolphin's sharp individual breaths added some syncopated rhythms to the musical score they seemed to be following. The dolphins were playfully interacting with each other and with the boat and the different durations of the coloured lights were reflecting the size of each dolphin. The lights kept intersecting and leaving different diameters and lengths of tails behind them.

All this time, the boat was behaving the way boats out at sea are meant to behave - it was reacting to the sails, to the waves and to the auto-pilot which continued to take us northwards on our passage towards Hawaii.

At 2018-02-20 21:38 (utc) our position was 11°55.59'S 103°52.49'W

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