By Robby Gray (JN)


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            It was one of those perfect days that are the reason why cruisers cruise even while paying more to live harder. The sea was flat calm and the cloudless sky met with the slightly rippled water in one continuous circle around Immanuel. Four days out from the Maldives and five more days to go before we hoped to arrive in Oman, it was only us, God, the Indian Ocean, fish, and… dolphins.

Hundreds of dolphins surrounded our boat taking turns playing in our bow wake. Now on the bow, making eye contact with the little smiling creatures playing in our bow wake, I was wondering how this day could possible get better. I knew and had personal experience that tuna will many times associate with spinner dolphins, the kind that were right then on the bow jumping all around us, so I turned my attention to my lines hoping that this day would get even better. Looking to the stern I saw that my lines were splashing and gurgling nicely. I had the lures close to the boat, even though the sun was high and the water was crystal clear, as the fish in the Indian Ocean, at least around March, seemed to be very aggressive.

I was just turning my attention back to the dolphins when my Penn International II, rigged with the largest lure put closest to the boat, started singing its sweet metallic song. Forgetting about the dolphins completely, I just about ran to the stern with visions of gigantic blue marlin.  I took the rod out of its PVC holder, put the drag lever up to the strike position, and jabbed the rod tip back a few times. Even though I had the drag to the strike position the line was still being removed from its spool at an alarming rate. While I was doing all this, my dad had ran back and put the engine into neutral. As the boat started to slow down I began to regain a little control. Judging from the bend in the rod and the fact I was about to go over the stern pulpit I knew this was no ordinary catch. As the fish had dove deep and seemed to want to stay there and with the dolphins on the bow, I suspected my fish was a tuna. Now that the boat had come to a complete stop, the dolphins started circling our boat, coming right up to the hull and sometimes diving under our keel. Instantly the rest of my family abandoned me and started frantically digging out there snorkeling gear. The gear was stowed deep, as everything on a boat seems to be, so it took a while for the rest of the family to dig out their dive gear.

As the fish came nearer to the surface, I could see dolphins circling around it. Soon I could see clearly the body of a five foot yellowfin tuna, neon yellow fins streaming behind like banners on the top of a proud castle. By the time my mom had found her gear and hopped in the water, my dad was still trying to get his, the fish was up next to the boat. So there I was with a five foot yellowfin tuna at the end of my 50 pound monofilament with no one to help me tailnoose it. I just stood there while everyone else got their gear on. I guess I was the only one with my priorities strait but it was still a difficult decision; swim with dolphins in thousands of feet of water in the middle of the Indian Ocean or land a five foot yellowfin tuna. The decision was made when my line finally broke and the tuna took off with one of my favorite lures so I joined my mom and dad in the water with the dolphins.

On entering the water I was defend by the dolphin’s echolocation. I could see the dolphins but only at a distance. I swam up forward, held on to Immanuel’s bow, and waited. The dolphins came closer and closer until they were only about 30 feet away but with the clarity of the water they seemed only 10 feet away. The dolphins blasted around us in little pods of about seven, coming in closer to look us strait in the eye then darting farther off. I have no idea how long we were in the water as time seemed to stop. We were all alone. It was just us and dolphins in an infinite blue.

Soon the dolphins moved just out of our sight, we could only here their squeaks, so we climbed back on to Immanuel. It was when we had gotten underway again, the bitter end of my fishing line dangling from the tip of my rod and the dolphins back on our bow, that we realized that we had left the sails up during our whole swim with the dolphins. We were all wondering what would have happened if the wind had picked up!