Three weeks to the winter solstice; dark outside, gale force winds, lashing rain and a thick overcast cover the closest thousand miles of ocean. Months since I've been afloat, and I'm missing the sea - time for a wander down memory lane.
Two autumns ago, I was standing on the fore-deck of a nicely fitted-out 40ft Beneteau, the great white masses of an unreefed main sail and genoa carrying us steadily west along the coast. To starboard, I caught a glimpse of a fin slicing through the water towards us; then, within seconds, they closed the gap, and we had an escort of dolphin outriders. Just a few feet separated me and the dolphins playing in our bow wave. They have no fear of us, or the great bulk of the yacht; and, in their playfulness, we see something that reminds us of ourselves.
Eventually, the dolphins appeared to decide that a fast yacht under full canvas was a little too slow for their taste, and upped their pace a little; within a few minutes, they were lost to sight, and we, once more, were alone on the ocean.