Pumpkin Heads, Music and Dolphins

I’ve always wanted to wear a pumpkin on my head,” our program coordinator Claire said as we ghosted along in light breeze off of Hatteras Island, North Carolina.  Captain Stephen grinned and cackled and went below for a kitchen knife.  After the Captain cut out the bottom of the jack-o-lantern, Claire put a plastic bag over her hair and we had a veritable walking pumpkin head on the Harvey Gamage.  While the pumpkin took the helm, gap student Griffin gathered his mask, too.  Disguised as Link from the Legend of Zelda, we are still unsure if this has become Griffin’s permanent look.

Festivities filled the earlier part of the day, as well.  Although the wind was light, we were in no hurry — the sun was warm and the motor was off.  The quiet aboard the ship and the calm seas made the perfect platform for music.  Students, crew and the captain gathered on the starboard deck near the foremast.  Old songs were sung and new tunes began on guitar, guitulele (cross between a guitar and ukulele), voice and cello.  Those on bow watch could join in with song from their station, too.

“Animals, animals!” we heard in a cry.  All on deck stopped what they were doing to look over the bow.  Bottlenose dolphins had graced us again.  Perhaps the music had drawn them in this time.  They passed us with ease and then slowed down to our pace to play and explore.  In twos and threes they zigzagged, cresting together in an intricate dance.  They swam forward of the bow and then separated to turn and twist back to a baby dolphin alongside the ship.  We were captivated — cooing to the intelligent creatures below, much more fit for the sea than us.  What mysteries do they hold; what interest do they have in us?

Someone thought they saw a white dolphin, but, instead, it was the belly of an inquisitive one, spinning to get a good look at us.  Maybe this was the first schooner she had ever seen, and she brought her young one by to experience the wonder of a big, heavy, wooden structure moving with the breeze.  Whatever the reason that they visited us this day, it was a gift — an auspicious one for a Hatteras Halloween.