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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hopped on a stranger's sailboat to see the dolphin

The most exciting and unlikely thing that happened to us in Ireland was when a guy in a wet-suit by the  mouth of Dingle bay offered to take us out in his two-person sailboat to visit the dolphin he befriended over 20 years ago.  We had run into him as he was coming onshore near a small stone tower overlooking the mouth of the bay.  The reason we were there was because I wanted to get a closer look at a lonely stone tower standing in the middle of a cow pasture. To get as close as we could, we'd driven down a tiny gravel road between fields, to the edge of the water, where about four cars were parked.  While we walked to the tower, and along the shore, we'd seen a man out circling back and forth in his small sailboat.  That's why I asked him if he'd seen any dolphins out there.  He thought that was funny, because it turned out he's been regularly visiting the dolphin for over twenty years.

After chatting about the dolphin for 10 minutes, and seeing the dolphin pop up a few times, he asked if we wanted to go meet his friend.  Even after he mentioned we had to go one at a time, Jennifer didn't hesitate to jump in the boat, which was a bit of a surprise to me. The guy was really friendly and seemed like a nice guy, but Jennifer says serial killers usually are too.  :)   She had to go by herself, because his tiny sailboat only carries two people.

So, there was Jennifer, out on a two-person sailboat with a guy we'd met 15 minutes before, while I waited onshore with Aiden's big, shaggy dog.

Jennifer sliding in the center board as they got into deep enough water.

Aiden had a way of calling the dolphin, with a loud "eeweeeee", and banging on the side of his boat with a small aluminum pole.  Most of the time, the dolphin responded by coming to the surface and checking out the boat.

Then he would disappear and we'd be looking for him in all directions.  Aiden would circle the boat around the area, going back into the harbor, or out further into the bay.  We saw him here just a second ago...

Coming in for a closer look.

Showing off.  You can get a sense of the relative size of the dolphin and the boat. He was about as long as the boat, so he looks really huge up close.  


He surfaced a couple of times near the mouth of the harbor.  You can see all the way across the bay to the next peninsula south.  

The way the wind was blowing, and with that sail, there were very few opportunities to get a photo where you can see both Jennifer and Aiden's faces.  Look at how low the edge of the boat is - it actually goes in the water when making a sharp turn like this.  

One theory is that he was released from an amusement park, but no one knows for sure.

The triumphant return to shallow waters, greeted by Aiden's shaggy dog.  Jennifer was beyond thrilled for a couple of days after.

This is the first in a series of articles on our trip to Ireland.  The next has photos from the spectacular seaside cliffs of Mizen Head.  Another describes our hike around Lamb's Head, at the tip of the Beara Peninsula, in County Cork.  Next is Connemara National Park, Cliffs of Moher, and Achill Island.  Finally, my favorite, the seaside cliffs and islands along Slea Head Drive.

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