Paddling With A Dolphin [in Sandown Bay]

Yesterday was one of those rare late summer days – hot, still, calm – a day for taking things slow and easy. I was at my local beach, Sandown Bay, volunteering for the Wave Project, who provide surf therapy for young people. While the conditions were beautiful, the glassy ocean wasn’t exactly conducive to surfing! Instead, we headed out on SUPs – a couple of giant ones, accompanied by half a dozen regular boards – about 20 of us in total.

We’d been on the unusually clear water for half an hour, paddling far enough out that the usual sounds of the beach were distant and muted. Kids [and adults!] were jumping off boards – relaxed, happy, fun … when one of the young people pointed, asking “What’s that?”

A grey dorsal fin broke the water about 50m from us, heading our way. “No, it’s definitely not a shark, don’t worry!”

Moments later, another of the kids gave an excited squeal, “There it is!” And indeed – there it was: a dolphin, who spent the next 10 minutes swimming in and around our group. He would swim down, then appear alongside one of the boards – at times, almost within arms reach – then a powerful, elegant flick of his tail, and off he would go, reappearing by someone else … an experience both real and magical.

Many of the most profound experiences in my life have been like this. Waiting for the sunrise atop Sri Pada, standing beneath ancient firs in Cathedral Grove, watching the lava flow at Arenal Volcano, and now, meeting a dolphin in Sandown Bay.

We need these moments – these connections – with nature … we need to feel that wonder and awe. It somehow helps us understand something about being human. Something deep and vital, that calls to the essence of who and what we truly are – what truly matters.

I don’t know where our dolphin is now … but that’s not important. It’s enough to know that he is out there … somewhere …


Weekly [digital] email to help navigate the [analogue] world …

Weekly [digital] email to help navigate the [analogue] world …