Pixel Tracker

Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 8:39 pm | Fair 49º

 
 
 
 

Captain’s Log: Dolphin Helps Turn Around a Young Life

Teen boy with an attitude changes course after a friendly encounter out at sea

Dolphins have long been considered animals of such powerful presence that they can alter lives. Count me among those who believe; I’ve seen it happen on multiple occasions. Here is one such story.

A family chartered my boat, the WaveWalker, for a critter cruise. I love those trips. This family was mom, pop, midteen son, pre-teen daughter and a boy in about second grade.

It was a nice family, with one glaring exception: The midteen kid — Charley, we’ll call him — was a gang banger with a chip on his shoulder the size of a block of ice.

He was as unfriendly as a block of ice, come to think of it. I was tempted to make him walk the plank for the way he treated his parents and siblings. Nothing they did or said was OK with him, and he unpleasantly let them know he thought they were full of it and that he was the only powerful one in the family. He hadn’t yet figured out the whole part about who was footing his expenses.

His family was weary and beleaguered. Fortunately, he was just smart enough not to lock horns with the captain. We have very sharp and stubborn horns aboard our own vessels.

The stress was taking a toll on everyone aboard the boat, and I was relieved to spot a large pod of common dolphins. It was a good size bunch of them — several hundred.

I altered course and paralleled them better than 100 yards off — a respectable distance. As happens frequently, the dolphins came racing over to check us out and play in our bow waves. The family went to the bow of the boat to enjoy the playful critters. Well, except for Charley, who remained, sullen and griping, in the cockpit area.

The family needed this break from him and also needed the refreshing diversion. We hung out with the dolphins for a good long time. When the family came back to the cockpit area, Charley went alone to the bow of the boat to get away from them. I sat on the bridge, and although Charley couldn’t see me well, I have my captainly ways to see everything aboard my vessel, and I could watch him, which I felt was the prudent thing to do.

Feeling like we needed some help here, I held up my hand to the dolphins and then pointed toward Charley, who by now — and thinking no one was watching — was looking at the dolphins. In fact, Charley laid down along the gunn’l so he was only a few feet from the critters.

On queue, one dolphin moved in very close, rolled partway onto its side and looked Charley right in the eye — eyeball to eyeball. It seemed to look right through Charley, who slowly reached his arm down toward the water. That dolphin watched his arm come close, and then strangely, it moved even closer so that Charley’s hand grazed its back.

At that moment, Charley looked stunned. He stood up with eyes wide open like he was shocked and surprised. He came back to the cockpit of the boat, hugged his parents, dropped his ganglike speech patterns and behaved pleasantly the remainder of the trip. As they disembarked at the end of the trip, both parents were wiping away tears as they embraced me to say thank you. I quietly told them I’d pass on their appreciation to the dolphins.

Dolphins rock!

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >