44. Dolphins and Sandbars
On a perfect day, we were sailing toward Waikiki, when fins appeared in the water alongside us. Suddenly, a dolphin leaped into the air, spinning and then dropping on its side in the water. A pod of dolphins swam close ahead of the bow, then surfed the bow wake. Betty squealed with delight as she sat on the bow and almost touched a dolphin with her outstretched toe.
These were Gray’s or Hawaiian Spinner dolphins which are known to come close to shore. The pod played in the water and leaped ahead of us to do their spinning, and then disappeared. About 10 minutes later, we spotted them 50 yards off the starboard beam, and turned and sailed toward them. When they saw us coming they returned to play around us again — then disappeared again.
Repeat the above a few times and you know how we spent the afternoon, sailing hither and yon, chasing and watching the dolphins doing their arial acrobatics. What fun! We recognized one of them who had a distinctive mark of an old wound on his dorsal fin, probably from a boat propeller.
Heading home, we turned into the channel to the lagoon, saturated by the wonderful experience of the day and just totally laid back in bliss. Then Keola slid to a grinding halt! I knew immediately I had carelessly missed the dogleg in the channel, and we had run aground on a sandbar!
I became a blur of action, like Superman changing clothes in a phone booth. I yelled at Betty to release the sails, which then flopped into the water because we were heeled over on the keel. I uncapped the well in the bottom of the cockpit, lifted the heavy outboard motor out of the side locker and mounted it in the well, tightening the clamps. Pushing the motor throttle almost to the top, I gave a mighty yank on the start cord! The motor immediately roared into high speed and I whipped it to 90 degrees. I yelled at Betty to pull in the mainsail, and as she did, the wind tipped us further, and I felt the keel pull free of the sand. We spun 180 degrees and were suddenly motoring back the way we came to the channel. Whew!!
Once in the channel, I relaxed, and got my bearings on the channel markers, and motored home to the Marina. One of our friends at the clubhouse told us there used to be a marker at the dogleg, which relieved my feeling of guilt some.
God gave me miraculous strength and direction to do exactly the right things to get us free! The lesson learned; always stay alert when sailing, and know that where you are is safe.