In my journal, I had written about taking the skiff out into the Bay of Conception to get a closer look at the many dolphins that were travelling up to the head of the bay. Paired with this photo courtesy of Amanda Naismith, and several others which triggered that memory, I wrote a scene for Kevin and Sylvia in Orion’s Gift that was very close to the truth.
Excerpt from Orion’s Gift:
Hundreds of sleek bodies broke the surface only to curve and dive down immediately and reappear a few yards farther on. Kevin cut the motor again and we drifted, a mere speck in the middle of the huge Bay of Conception, closer than we had hoped to a huge school of dolphins, all aiming for the head of the bay.
“Listen to them!” I whisper-shouted to Kevin. The mewling, whistling, singing, and crying, as they repeatedly broke the surface of the water, was an eerie choir piece. Hauntingly beautiful, it gave me goosebumps in spite of the warm day. Kevin’s face mirrored my feelings exactly—somewhere between awe and ecstasy. My mind was suddenly in turmoil, balancing this rare and precious moment with the realization that I probably had few of them left. Peaks of happiness and bottomless pits of misery played havoc with my emotions.
My eyes filled with tears. “Thank you for bringing me out here. That was so beautiful.” I lowered my head. Just needed a moment.
“It would have been a shame to have to enjoy this all alone,” he said.
Still trying to come to terms with the amazing spectacle we had just experienced, we sat a moment longer watching the last of the dolphins disappear in the distance.
“Uh-oh!” Kevin pointed towards the open end of the bay. “Whitecaps.” He started the motor and turned the skiff towards home. Within minutes, the breaking waves had moved much closer and the glassy smooth surface changed to ripples that grew into an uncomfortable lump. I’d heard San Diego fishermen talk about the lump in the sea. Now I knew what they were talking about.
“Hang on,” he said. “It could get bumpy. I’ll take us to the nearest point of land and then we’ll work our way home along the beach.”
I gripped the gunwales of the boat where they began to curve towards the bow. We bucked into the choppy whitecaps that had now overtaken us. In no time, the sleeves of my blue cotton shirt were soaked from the spray. Two-foot waves didn’t seem like much but they followed one after the other so briskly that the small skiff took a pounding. My stomach clenched into a knot of fear as we were tossed in every direction. I tightened my grip against the bouncing of the boat. More waves splashed over the bow, soaking the front of my shirt. I was glad the water was warm. It would have been an ordeal to be splashed with icy water every few seconds. The finer spray wet my face so the drops were running off my chin. I glanced at Kevin in the stern of the boat. He was completely dry except for a bit of salt spray in his hair. He looked so good and I could only imagine what I looked like. Drowned rats came to mind.