What a Night  I

An excerpt from my log on passage from Oman to Eritrea

By Robby Gray

May 23, 2004


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It is night now, March 29, 2003, and I am writing this entry by the light of a dim flashlight because we have to keep all the lights off as we are in the Gulf of Aden, between Yemen and Somalia, where there is a lot of piracy. Already, only about one week ago, a cruiser has been robbed of his money and a few valuables by  machine gun toting "pirates" here. The "pirates", almost always opportunistic people smugglers smuggling people from Somalia to Yemen, aren’t out looking for boats to rob but, if they see a boat while on their smuggling run, they are already armed so they see us as quick cash. We have been traveling with two other boats, Mantra and Mustang Sally, with Mantra on our port quarter and Mustang Sally on our starboard quarter. Since all our running lights are turned off, we are relying on our radars to keep from hitting each other. Most of the pirated area, that those cruisers wanting to get into the Red Sea are forced to go through, we are able to traverse in the dark (see map for the approximate area). We are hoping to only have a few hours of exposure in daylight tomorrow.


All of us on board, especially me and my mom, have always wanted to see dolphins in bioluminescent water at night. And, recently, I had been getting more and more anxious to see this phenomenon. The biggest reason being because we have seen a bunch of dolphins in this part of the world, on our last passage especially crossing the Indian ocean. I have even had dolphins scare me to death on my night watch by jumping right next to me in the cockpit. I knew, that, in all probability, if we were to ever witness this amazing phenomenon it would be here in this part of the world and, if we did not see this phenomenon here, I would probably never see it. To make things worse, we had been tantalized by stories from our friends on board Danza of their experience with dolphins at night sparkling in the bioluminescent seas.


Just a few minutes ago we all got what we had been hoping for. We had dolphins on the bow, bioluminescence flowing all around their unseen bodies and streaming out behind them in direct contrast to the inky black water like comets of the oceans. The dolphins jumped clear out of the water repeatedly—the jumps ending in explosions of blue light. With each jump they made we cheered them on even louder from our position on the bow leaning over the bow pulpit. The dolphins seemed to revel in our admiration and eventually they were jumping so high that one almost hit his head on our anchor. I can’t tell you how long the show continued because all time stopped but I do know that the dolphins stayed a good long time—the dolphins having as much fun as we were. Staring at those bright, sparkling visual representations of the water flowing over the dolphin’s bodies was mesmerizing. It was a bit like staring into a bonfire where you can never get enough—the bioluminescence a lot like the sparks that fly from the bonfire when a new pallet is thrown on turned fluorescent blue. When the dolphins had left, my mom voiced what we all felt in our hearts that we are going to make it through the pirated area safely. Those dolphins were God’s way of saying you can rest well because you will be safe. You may doubt the truth of this statement but I know that there was no better way for God to tell us this and it worked as after the dolphins had left I worried no more!


Over the course of our travels, as we have seen more and more awe inspiring things, I find it more and more amazing how God shows himself through creation. It’s that feeling you get when looking at the beauty of places like Yosemite National Park, Monument Valley, Brice Canyon, the Grand Canyon, the Everglades,  Niagara Falls, the Rocky Mountains, Crater Lake National Park, the Redwood Forest, and the Pacific North West to name a few places in the 'States. As I now know, the rest of the trip was calm, peaceful, and quiet. The next day, with the wind on our stern, we were to be pushed right through the strait of Bab al Mandeb (The Gates of Sorrows), Africa on our port and the Arabian Peninsula on our starboard, and into the Red Sea.