The Wild Dolphin Project begins its 34th consecutive season.
May 08, 2018
Day 1: As if the last seasons requests had been heard, we broke through the inlet and were met by gentle strolls of less than two foot waves shimmering like a layer of wrinkled plastic overtop a dark blue liquid. A pair of jet skis were sitting idle in 100 feet of water without even rocking in the slightest. The conditions were favorable to say the least. During the entire crossing I made constant squeals of delight towards the brilliantly smooth textures of water. I would lean over the side and point, insisting that people look at what probably seemed to them like nothing more than a pretty day on the ocean. I realize its something most do not have a reference for, but I did my best to explain the reasons behind my amazement.
Other than a low flying frigate bird, not much for marine life appeared during the crossing. Mid-way through the Gulf Stream, I had to weave my way between a stream of freighters churning northbound along the shipping lanes. I counted five in total that were there in close proximity with more popping up along the horizon.
Truth be told, the morning's entirety had not gone as peachy as the description of those seas might convey. On the drive in to the marina, horrible, black plumes of smoke were seen churning high into the air and were steadily being replaced by more columns of thick, rolling eruptions. The closer I got to the marina, the closer I was getting to those frightful billows. I heard a helicopter and looked up to see one sitting stagnant in the sky observing the carnage. Thankfully, the turn into our marina arrived, leaving the disaster still a few streets away.
As I walked down the dock towards Stenella, my head remained cocked in the direction of that fateful scene. I rounded the final corner, thus extending my perspective from further out and could now see the catalyst for these densely packed plumes of smoke. Heavy streams of water were raining down from above and beyond that wall of churning, gray steam and smoke, the eyes of a menacing, orange and red monster still raged with conviction. The flames were leaping multiple stories into the air, outwardly betraying the attempts at stifling its existence. I could not tell what exactly was ablaze, but my eyes remained fixed on the havoc.
Reports state that a 125' yacht had caught fire for reasons unknown while on the hard at Cracker Boy Boat Works. Utilizing a water curtain, fire fighters were able to prevent the fire from spreading, but decided to let the boat burn itself out instead of spraying directly onto it and risk the boat collapsing atop the jack stands from the added water weight. A cruise ship, which harbors just on the other side of the Port of Palm Beach, adjacent to Cracker Boy, was delayed for three hours. SeaTow deployed 1,000 feet of containment floats in the nearby area to prevent the spread of a diesel fire.
My rubbernecking came to a halt as I saw the other crew members making their way down the docks. I quickly gave the upper decks a wash down, checked fluids, started generator and switched over from shore power, stocked the drink fridge and ran around rapidly putting things away so the boat was cleared and organized as possible for when passengers started showing up. It always goes the same: the new guests struggle to figure out where to stand and it usually takes about a day for everyone to figure out how to utilize the space effectively. I do my best to smile and speak to people as I bustle around and squeeze through the timid throngs.
In my rushing, I was troubleshooting power switch overs and at the same time had a head pump that was running due to a leaky seal. I go down to where the pump's wiring is and disconnect it so it doesn’t run continuously, but failed to close off the toilet. Sure enough, someone unaware of the presently inoperable head used it and blew the pump. I had no one to blame but myself. And also, while yes its gross, after doing it four, five, seven times it has melded into being one of the many other boat tasks. One that just requires a bit longer gloves and a slight apprehension of what is to come pouring out when I disconnect things. Opening up the other head we were able to make passage with a spare pump on board, changing it once we had crossed over.
Old Bahama Bay was as busy as mid-summer form, but we managed to snag a T-head to tie up on. There were a lot of fancy, well-waxed cruiser yachts harbored and already on shore power. Also harbored here were a few of the Bimini shark tour operators that had come to spend the final weeks diving with hammers and tigers. As Bahamian waters begin to warm, these impressive, megafauna species will soon cease to reside here except for a few rogue, deep-water encounters.
We got cleared in, but were unable to clear out because of a paperwork discrepancy. So, we had to put up for the night on the sea-wall and resume the process in the morning. By 10AM the next day we had it resolved and were underway.
Day 2: We continued to have nice, flat seas while in tight to the island, but as soon as we ventured off away from those protected shorelines, the seas started to build. Flat calm turned into 2-3ft chop. A passing rain storm jutted across quickly, but we managed to avoid the rains. Going into a head sea, it was white-capped and gusty. The winds picking up and frothing the upper caps to the waves.
We deployed the same acoustic listening device as we had the season prior and took a chance to snorkel and swim while anchored down. It’s pristine, white sea floor is an oasis amongst the remote Bahamian waters. A few snorkelers were interested in learning how to blow bubble rings and extend their breath holds so I gave them a brief schooling on the matter. One gal, determined to get to the bottom went down, grabbed a handful of sand and then held it up showing it to me not realizing the time and effort she took to get there. It was during her moment of celebration that she still had 26ft to ascend and her body was signaling the CO2 build-up. I stuck my head under to keep a close eye on her, ready to pounce if she showed any signs of distress. I laughed and congratulated her, telling her that was pretty good for a first day dive.
Most our snorkel sites are under 20ft and surprisingly, that extra six feet makes quite a difference to breath hold times. More kicks are required to get down which in turn burns more oxygen. She asked how I stay down for so long and I said meditation. She looked at me as if that was not the answer she expected to hear, but I went on to explain how slowing the heart's rhythm and going down as smoothly and effortlessly as possible is how I can extend the bottom time.
As usual, I had a great time diving up and down, bobbing in the remote blue waters and despite being the first to go in, was still the last one to leave. Even with nothing but tiny, skittish razor fish and camouflaged flounder atop endless featureless sand, this area fills me with intrigue and I recognize it for its true uniqueness.
Day 3: With another EAR deployment on the horizon, the researchers looked over their data points for dolphin encounters to make a third location in line with possible southern community members giving it a pass by.
The deployment went successful, but my dive buddy likes to hang out and shoot footage well after the job is complete. Upon each surfacing to retrieve different components to get mounted, I noticed passing storms getting nastier and closer. I had to make sure he came up with me on the final installment. As I looked around at my surroundings, I noticed the boat was not situated above us like it had been the entire time. I knew instantly that a gust of wind had pushed it away and sure enough, when we surfaced it was 50 yards getting swung by the prevailing winds coming off an approaching squall. The line of wind and water was about 2000 feet from us, baring down quickly. I wanted to get out of the water asap, but with the strong winds and the large sail area of the boat, the captain felt he could swing the boat to us, using the anchor line tension to work it back up stream. I figured his engine was bigger than mine, so we let him swing it stern first back around to where we were floating. He got it within 20 yards and I said to the other diver, lets start swimming to meet it.
We missed the storm by about ten minutes, but it had started to stall out and ended up conjoining with the other passing cells. What would have been a quick blow over, turned into a slow, stagnant, growing in size rain storm that lasted for about 2 hours.
By about 1 PM the rains had cleared and we were already in a prime, southern proximity to make a crossing over to Bimini. So we went ahead and graced ourselves along the 2-3ft clean, New Providence channel waters. About two hours in we had a low-flying frigate bird with a couple of terns attacking the oceans surface. As the captain ran down the stairs to rig up a couple fishing lines, I throttled back to hopefully advance on the scene without spooking what was there beneath holding their attention. The captain sent out a good 800ft of line and we cruised past the birds making a wide circle.
Nothing on the first pass, so we lined ourselves up to make another go at it. The frigate had lifted itself higher, but the terns kept themselves close to the water. The lines were perfect for this next pass and just as the birds were closing in for a strike, a shimmer of metallic green darts across the surface and pummels the lure. Fish on!
I slacken to idle and let the cook, who unwittingly became the one chosen to reel, started to take in the line. Keeping the fishing line to one side, we were able to retract the other line and not get them crossed.
After about ten minutes of fighting, we see the mahi head splash and swim parallel with the transom. I could tell it was over three feet long and upwards of 15-20lbs. A good sized bull or cow! The captain grabs the excess line and brings it alongside the entry way gate and pulls it in close. In one swift move he takes the gaff down below and yanks it up, piercing the mid-section of the fish and taking the fish directly into the boat. It slaps onto the deck and instantly he begins to tussle with it, using his whole body to try and get it under control. It escapes his attempt and slides under the picnic table. Rather than to risk losing the the fish, he opens up the fish locker and slides it in, dropping the hatch down overtop it. He looked around, smiling, breathing heavy as he and the other passengers were completely amped by this encounter. It’s one thing to reel in a barracuda or even a schooling mahi, but to reel in a twenty pounder is a spectacle of its own.
By 4 PM we had Great Isaacs in sight and were now on the bank steaming towards Bimini. With a new group of passengers, I get to answer all over again what the different landmarks and geographic features are.
As we rounded the corner from North rock towards the shores of Bimini Road, we always laugh about a dolphin encounter is sure to be expected there in the final stretch between us and our anchor hold. As if the dolphins had been in on the joke, sets of fins start popping out the water and gliding towards the bow of the boat. We stomp, giving the signal and look at each other laughing in complete, well... belief.
It was an exciting encounter with high energy from the spotteds. We got our first group in the water and early on, the research assistant yells from the water, its LAMDA! Lamda is the dolphin that had stranded itself last offseason and the Project had made a special trip in October to reintroduce him to the community after he had successfully undergone a lengthy rehab in Nassau. It was beyond cool to see him still hanging with his community members, doing well and happened to be in the first encounter of the season. His excitement was through the roof. The RA who was also there to film his release, still adorning the yellow camera and her usual underwater attire was recognizable and he seemed to be showing his gratitude towards her specifically. It was a really cool moment to witness.
Day 4: We had been beginning each day with something we called, “Crew Fit” where we start out each day with some workout exercises. Be that yoga, swimming or a exercise routine. Today, I jumped in on the swim and did ten, fast-paced laps around the 62’ long, 23' wide boat. It was certainly a workout, but I had to skip the post-swim weight lifting portion to resume my morning tasks. Wash down the eisenglass, restock the drink fridge, take out trash & recycling, fix a loose strap on the eisenglass, record engine and generator hours, finish the fuel transfer and hopefully eat a pancake and yogurt before I go to pull anchor. The cook had a pancake ready and waiting and I took some time to enjoy it with a side of oatmeal, yogurt, nuts and blueberries. I washed it all down with a glass of orange juice and left to start warming the mains.
We talked on the bridge a bit about something interesting that I had seen late last night. I had walked out to check on things and use the bathroom off the side, when I saw a large, well-lit ship steaming rather close to us. Not dangerously close, but enough to where I took notice of it. I studied its direction for a bit, as the night time makes it hard to discern directions of travel. As I’m looking at it, I notice two small dinghies coming away and headed towards shore. The running lights go out, and I cock my head wondering what I will see next. It wasn’t as if they went behind a swell as we were inshore and sitting in rather calm seas. I see one of the lights return and in a flash of heat lightning could make out that it was a small, inflatable boat.
I watch them for a minute longer and then come back down to my bunk where our crew had been amassing and telling jokes to each other. I tell the captain I saw something out of the ordinary, but not exactly troubling. I saw its no big deal, but he says lets go check it out any way. We come outside and I begin to describe what I saw and we determine the large vessel was a cruise ship. By now it was much further away and I also now begun to recall how the deep water bank plays a little trickery in its proximity to the shoreline. As were standing around, from the direction I’d last seen the dinghy, a weak flare goes up maybe twenty feet up in the air and then drops down into the water quickly extinguishing itself. We both look at each other with wide eyes. It was definitely a flare and definitely came from where I’d seen that boat.
We go up to the bridge and I turn up the radio and he debates calling out if anyone sent or saw a flare near Bimini. There’s no chatter and we wait to hear something. Nothing. I say there’s no way that little boat had a radio anyway. Perhaps it was also a signal to the cruise ship that they had made it to shore. We were puzzled but given the amount of time that it took me to walk inside, come back out and then seen the flare, it would be odd that someone had jumped to using a distress signal in a matter of minutes. It could also just be some Bahamaians playing around. Who knows. We determined if it had come from the deep water, we’d pull anchor and go search, but we were in less than 20 feet of water and less than a half mile from shore.
By 10 AM we had another brief spotted encounter for the second team of snorkelers and at 11 AM we had another, interspecies encounter with ten bottlenose and three spotteds. There were lots of behaviors coming from the three large male bottlenose as they were giving specific attention to two spotted males in particular.
The rest of the day was sunny and calm with two foot seas, allowing us to navigate any direction we chose. Seeing as how most the eastern bank was cut off last season due to prevailing NE winds, we ventured up that way. There wasn’t much activity, but it was still fun to explore that unfamiliar direction.
On our way back in and in the exact same spot as the morning encounter, we had ten more spotteds come by the boat at 4 PM. In this encounter there was a very young juvenile calf, but it didn’t appear its actual mother was with it. It looked more like it was under supervision from another dolphin in a “babysitting” scenario. Later, while reviewing the video footage we can see if perhaps its mother was present.
During the evening film review, I watched the first encounter, but elected to leave the room during the interspecies segment. It’s not something I enjoy seeing and much to my dismay, the bottlenose had been focused on the exact same dolphin I saw undergo this unforgettable scene last year. This type of behavior is normal to see, and it is believed to be a form of dominance behavior, but it can be hard to watch sometimes.
Day 5: We waited out a few passing rain showers, but had anchor pulled by 9:30 AM. Within less than a mile we had a bottlenose encounter where they were staying in one area to crater feed. We took the opportunity to get in and record some footage of this neat event and were even able to cut mains to make the encounter as uninterrupted as possible. It was great footage, but after awhile they seemed to be done with the people in the water and wanted to feed alone. So, they squawked at the camera person and she signaled for us all to back off. We exited the water and were back underway dodging storms as we traveled along the bank.
Other than an elusive bottlenose along the grass beds, the entire day was spent zig zagging without much results. Coming back from the deep water edge, I saw nice blue water and decided to follow it back down to our homestead. I was hoping for dolphins to show up as it would be so great to get an encounter with those conditions. Like the request had been heard, 2, 3, 5, 7, 12 spotteds starting approaching the bow. They were mostly young spotteds and very engaging. We got our divers in, but after about 20 minutes they broke away and perhaps went separate ways to target fish.
Back at our anchor hold, I was itching to get in the water and lead three of the interns on an hour snorkel excursion. We swam along a long, continuous, double ledge that ran perpendicular to the shore. We found a few roaming Siro mackerels, a couple of nurse sharks, a really bright blue interesting shrimp and the highlight was the family of lobsters (11 in total) all posing in front of their lair. I had to return to start warming up the grill, but not before I gave them all another lesson in blowing bubble rings. I’m starting to get good enough to even teach others now, which is fun to share.
Mother’s Day: Thank you to all the mothers... The mothers we have on board with us, the mothers existing in the ocean, the mothers we leave behind to come work out here and the mothers that have left us behind either in death or change of course.
This day recognizes the celebration of spirit for being carried in the womb, nursed while young and then released to become our own bodies of inspiration.
During the day we had passed around a couple of cards to be signed without the mothers on board knowing and after dinner I kept them occupied at the picnic table while the cook prepared a special brownie platter. I think they enjoyed their treats.
It’s fun for us to pay homage to the ones that share their special days with us while at sea. For some, so much gets left behind that it requires a monumental amount of sacrifice to come out here. For those like me, I surround myself with the narrative that deep inside the adventure is where I call home and feel myself at ease.
Almost at the same hour in the near same relative location we ran into another group of spotteds. This time a large cluster of at least 21 confirmed. Their fins streaked the surface as they separately and sometimes in tandem made their way to the bow.
Shortly there after, we were in the water to gather as many IDs and footage as we could. The group split apart, but nine very fun and engaging dolphins remained. They begun to travel and got ahead of the swimmers so we pulled them out and tried to relocate where they were going. We came across a foursome and followed them for some ways. We were hoping they would lead us towards the larger group, but it appeared as if their frustrations were signaling they would rather us give them a bow ride instead. So we did, for quite some time. We never found the rest of the group so we took the turn back towards Bimini and went to go put down anchor.
On the way, in I noticed a large front pushing across from the West towards our homestead. I switched over to the weather band report and listened, taking notes about where the storms were occurring, where they were headed, what their expected wind and travel speeds were. It seemed as if the Atlantic trade winds would keep the storms held tight to the Florida coastline. Most of what already had developed, was well North of our southern position.
While on the hook, I swam some very fast, competitive laps around the boat. I did my best to lap and pass the other, slightly slower, swimmers, but they too were giving it their all so my lungs were screaming. I swim with a mask, but no snorkel. Because of this, its more challenging to get my head out, clear the water from my face so it doesn’t drip into my mouth and grab as much air as I can before returning to paddle out three or four more strokes. I liked the exercise and felt the burn afterwards.
A twosome had been wanting to take the kayak over to the island so the captain and I got it untied off the bow and brought it around for them. He grumbled a bit in the process, but I can understand passengers seeing it there would tantalize them with the prospect of using it at some point. Once ashore, they walked along the beach and I washed the days salt off the windows and the bridge's dash top.
An intern on board brought out a Polaroid camera and snapped a few photos of us with the setting sun as the backdrop. They turned out great and we hung a few up on the refrigerator with the other pet pictures. I really like what enjoyment and enthusiasm the different guests bring. Some are alone, nose deep in their books while others like to play games with one another. Some take naps in the sun while others might just lay their head down and stare off into the endless blue landscape.
Day 7: Another twosome wanted to take the kayak over to the island before we departed so we launched them off and said when to be back. The captain grumbled again after they were finished and we had to re-tether it to the bow.
We ventured across the bank passing by the Hesperus wreck. The waters there were an unusual shade of turquoise green and blue. I had to do a look around to see where we were at, as it took me by surprise the clarity of the water. Normally along the grass beds the waters are a dense green. Especially during the hours of ebbing. By the time we got the okay to put down anchor for lunch, it had returned to its usual coloration.
The Hesperus site is one of my favorite for working on breath holds as its around 20 feet and not much current. After getting everything open for the swimmers, I suited up last and made my way into the sandy clearing ahead of where our anchor was resting. I watched beneath me as the numerous conchs made their tracks through the shallow grass beds. It’s nice to see an area where they haven’t all got the signature hammer whack from being harvested for their meat and tossed back to the bottom.
I immediately got to work freediving, filming a scene of fish on the segmented piece of the bow. I wandered around the wreckage, sensing the energy of the things swimming beneath me. Noticing which creatures were congregating where, and picking my spots for where I’d want to put down and envelop my senses into the churning activity. Quickly into my swim, I dove into a great film sequence. While capturing some fish activity in the center, low-point of the wreck a yellow spotted ray comes out from the folds of the wreckage to greet me. I thought sure it’d shy away, but instead it circled around the piece of wreckage I was hanging onto and landed inches from my peering face. I watched as its spiracles flared, filtering the water through and its eyes were similarly checking out the days activity. I stayed under for another 40 seconds making it a near two minute long breath hold time. Things were off to a good start.
A nurse shark had been circling the wreck and later I found the upper lobe tip from its caudal fin peeking out from the rubble where it had sandwiched itself beneath. I dove down and gave it a short minute of filming, hoping I wouldn’t disturb its resting spot. As if it had the support of all the other fish, schools of grunts concealed its hiding position and I could barely see the shark after the initial 15 seconds.
Before my swim partner returned to the boat, I had her snag a few photos of me hanging out on the bottom. It’s fun for me to be down there as I gaze around at the different fish, the swimmers above looking down at me, wondering how is it I stay down for so long. The answer isn’t really clear. I explained how I calm the the mind prior to diving and then use the most efficient yet minimal movements to get down, but the truth is, I think the real magic happens once I have settled onto the bottom. It’s when I get down there that I stop thinking and only start feeling. Closing my eyes I hear the wreck like I were a part of it. I sense the oceans pushes and pulls, brining life to this sub-surface monument. The heart has slowed so greatly that what I thought would be a short time spent below turns into longer and longer, and then even still longer. Eventually, I just feel myself letting go as I lift up off the bottom and am carried back up to the surface as if gravity had inverted itself.
I continued to stay on the wreck freediving with other buddy pairs as they make their way out to the site. I jump into their groups, allowing myself to continue to dive. I swim beneath the stern of the ship which raises up like that of an old pirate ship. Beneath its rudder can be seen still connected to the transom. I follow a pair of shark suckers around, doing my best to videotape without making them swim away. Hog fish are interjecting themselves into the clips, sometimes puffing up their wispy dorsal strands as if they see me as a competitor to their turf.
A group of swimmers were headed back and I decide to swim with them. As I do, I am pulled away by a desire to go and check the position of the anchor to use as a reference for when I am bringing it back up. Near to it, I see a loggerhead gingerly galloping across the grass beds. I venture closer, filming from the surface as the turtles here are not like the turtles I see along the dive sites in Jupiter. They treat us as strangers and take no chances getting close. As it goes by with the assortment of Echeneidae species swimming along with, I make my move, dropping down to catch it with the lens as it moves out over the now sandy substrate. I keep swimming, trailing behind as a family of hogfish joins in on the procession. I pop up excitedly signaling turtle to the person on watch and then make my way back to the boat.
It was now my three hour chunk to drive the boat and on our way out to the deep water edge to dump our holding tank, yet another 3 PM spotted encounter happened. Six roamers came up to the bow and soon we had our swimmers in to gather ID’s. While swimming along with the dolphins, our rudder got locked in a hard to port position and we were unable to steer the boat straight. It wouldn’t reset itself and we were drifting back towards the deep water edge. The captain runs to grab the air horn to signal all the swimmers to return to the boat and we descend the staircase to try and see what the issue was. He smartly tells me to drop anchor and I run to the front and heave it over as quickly as I could to hopefully get it to set before we were in water too deep to drop it in. Luckily, we were still only in 40ft of water, but another had we drifted another 1500 feet and we may have been in 700ft of water.
We check for any broken rudder linkage, but everything there was ship shape. So we closed the hydraulic line and put on the manual tiller to see if we could reset it with brute force. It broke the welds on the tiller trying to pull it, but we may have jostled an air bubble loose in the hydraulic line. After re-firing the main we had operable steering again. We sighed a sigh of relief and pulled anchor making our way inshore.
A lone spotted had come to the bow while we were underway, to which we allowed it to ride as long as it pleased, but we maintained our course. It seemed to be steering better, with more sensitivity from the rudder to less movement by the wheel, which was a good sign that things had actually improved not worsened. It’s always good to be a little cautious when encountering possible false senses of security, so we steered only using the engines for awhile, testing out the auto-pilot responsiveness shortly after and then pushed about 10-12 degrees on either side with the wheel on stand-by.
At our anchor hold, we watched as another massive low-pressure front dispersed bursts of small rain cells. We somehow fantastically stretched our anchor line out into a misty, sun-filled clearing and watched the sun put down between patches of dark, rainy skies. We celebrated the day a bit and then later Dr Herzing gave us a short multi-media lecture on dolphin communication and how they approach the phenomenon using a scientific approach. I did learn a little about how the dolphins can use their melon like a muscle and are able to discharge a signal with a range of about 20º to either side while still looking directly ahead. When she started going into the classification algorithms of the different patterns to sounds I begun to feel myself falling asleep. She noticed the decline in attention and decided to pause. I climbed down to my bunk and listened to a bit of music before quickly falling asleep.
Day 8: The day began with a full boat wash down: bow, windows, eisenglass, top deck and aft deck. We had a bit of generator maintenance, fixed a seam coming undone on a seat cushion and barely got breakfast in before the mains were warming and the anchor was to be pulled.
Despite my initial pleas, and while also demonstrating protest by a vow of silence, a crew member was to get planked this day for haphazardly making a mistake against another passenger. The verdict had come down from the top, so there wasn’t much to do or say about it, hence my decision to be silent. Regardless, the crew mate didn’t let the darkness eat her and accepted the fate as a true sea person would. As the captain slowed the boat to an idle, he came down to the aft deck gathering all the passengers and crew there to pay witness. I had pulled the plank out and had been polishing it with a rag, making sure it was ship shape to send a person to the wayside. Despite my aversion to the sentencing, I put on my best pirate face and went with it. The final words she gave were from the poem Invictus, “I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul.” It was a cool way to go out and the captain grabs the deck brush sending her to the sea. Of course, she was allowed back on and the boat had now been purged.
The seas were starting to pick up with all the low pressure shifts, and the winds were now hard out of the West. We had an unusual encounter, still around that fabled hour, but this time with three spotteds, two bottlenose and one offshore pelagic bottlenose. It was interesting to see its lightly colored saddle patch and behavior in proximity to two different species. We managed to get the intern and research assistant in, but held the others guests back. We could see the offshore bottlenose surfing the waves in close proximity to the cameras, but was never close enough to gather any solid footage of it in the water.
We called it off and put down anchor for the final night. Inside the cabin, we all had a good time making each other laugh, telling jokes and entertaining the night away with stories and star gazing.
Day 9: The crossing went smooth and we cleared US customs two hours early. Upon the moments of everyone getting off the boat and carting their belongings up to cars, I noticed one person coming down the docks with flowers, a dog on leash and as he got closer a bowtie was being worn. I wasn't sure what the emphasis was for, but not long after I look around and everyone had moved off the boat as he got down on one knee and proposed to his soon-to-be fiance. She shakily said yes, flushed red with nervousness and then gave him a hug. We all clapped and I was misty in the eyes at their level of excitement and bashfulness. I think I will forever recall that as the most memorable reunion of two people while gone from a trip.
To kick off the season right, here is another video installment...