Night Visitors

 “What mystery is the sea, whose stirrings speak of a hidden soul beneath.”

Herman Melville


Lone pelican on a piling at sunset.


Our days in Georgia are spent motoring through winding creeks, watching the depth. Phil is singing Country Western songs: “Shoaling, shoaling, shoaling (Rawhide)” and “Back in the Channel Again.” The weather has finally turned warmer and we have sun every day. Our first stop after our night aground is Skull Creek Marina, where we share the dock with big awkward pelicans and one Great Blue Heron who wasn’t afraid to perch about six feet away in the dusk.


Birds perched, one to a piling, at Skull Creek Marina.

Queen Bess Creek is our anchorage for the following evening, and presents us with an incredible sunset. We sit in the cockpit watching the sun go down.


A watercolor sunset, Queen Bess Creek, Georgia.

We have less than a week left of our time together, and only two days until we get to our agreed-upon stopping place, Brunswick, GA.

“I feel so badly that we didn’t get you to Florida,” I say quietly. “I still think we could have made it.”

I can see he is thinking. “How many miles is it from Brunswick to St. Augustine?”

We go below and check the chart book. “It’s a hundred and ten,” I say. “Two long days.”

The wheels start to turn. Then the wheels come off of Plan C, and suddenly Plan B is a possibility. We will be in Brunswick on Tuesday. We can be in St. Augustine by Thursday night. Phil’s face lights up.

“We can do it!” He is so excited, I can’t bear to remind him that I just bought a non-refundable ticket home from Savannah. I’ll worry about that later. We are happy.

The next day, a dolphin breaches right off our port bow and lingers alongside us. It’s a good omen. We pull into our anchorage at Queens Island, in view of the red and white striped Sapelo Island Lighthouse. Dolphins are swimming around the mouth of the creek, and Phil catches a fin in a photo. Finally, some evidence. And another sunset to remember.


Sunset from our anchorage at Queen’s Island, Georgia. Here, we had night visitors.

The night is warm and clear. Since there’s no moon, the stars are brilliant and the Milky Way is visible above us. Phil lies on his back in the cockpit looking for shooting stars, but my attention is drawn to the water. I hear soft rippling sounds, as if someone is dangling her feet in the water. I peer into the dark ripples, but can’t see anything. Then, from just a few feet away, I hear a loud huff. It scares me; it is strangely human, as if someone is letting out an exasperated sigh.

“What is that?” I whisper. We are quiet for a while, listening. Another huff, farther off, breaks the silence.

“Dolphins breathing!” Phil whispers, and we hear another one. They are all around us in the dark water, and as I scan the surface, I see a reflection of our cockpit lantern in a round circle. An eye. They are watching us, too. Like so many moments of this adventure I’m on, this is an experience I will never forget. We sit for a long time under the stars, listening to the breathing of dolphins.

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