Incredible things happen when we set out for adventure; the unexpected creates moments in time that connect us and stay with us forever. Our own Sammy Pappas tells us a story from his days as a guide in Belize, when an afternoon of windsurfing lead to a close encounter and a lifelong friendship.
It was a beautiful day in Glovers Atoll, Belize.
The smooth, aqua blue water, warm sunshine, and easy wind speed of 12-15 knots made for a fantastic day to learn how to windsurf. Most of my guests were beginners with the exception of one, Matt, who was a seasoned windsurfer. Unfortunately for Matt, the wind wasn’t gusty enough to take him as fast and far as he had hoped. He had waited all week for the perfect, windy day. Today was Matt’s last day in Belize, and I could tell he was doing his best to hide disappointment.
Later that afternoon, all of my guests were relaxing after a day of nice, easy sailing when the wind began to pick up. The wind was blowing 30 knots by the time I gathered my gear. I knew the second the wind started to rip that Matt would be heading my way. I was already on the beach ready to go when he showed up with a big smile on his face. Matt finally got his windy day.
We rigged up our boards quickly and paddled out. The sailing was fast and fantastic. Since the water inside the atoll stays fairly flat due to the protection of the reef, we were able to reach speeds of 25-35 knots. Matt finally had the experience he had been eager to seize all week. It was an exhilarating and freeing moment for us both as we swiftly skimmed across the top of the water, the mist from the boards blowing across our warm faces.
The sun was beginning to set and a breathtaking display of orange, purple, yellow, and red illuminated the western sky. We had about 40 minutes of daylight left, and I could see Matt’s ecstatic grin as we sailed ahead. I thought, how could this get any better?
As if on queue, a bottlenose dolphin emerged just a few feet from our boards.
The dolphin paralleled our course, and we sailed together for miles.
It was one of the most fantastic experiences I’ve ever had on the water. I had been dealing with a personal challenge and windsurfing with this amazing mammal soothed my feelings. I felt like I had shared the dolphin’s mysterious and intriguing world for a short time, and in return, the dolphin was sharing ours.
As we headed in, Matt and I stopped in the middle of the atoll for a few minutes and sat on top of our boards. The sun flashed a bright green burst under the horizon as it disappeared. Right in that exact moment, the dolphin jumped out of the water in a high arch with the vibrant glow of the sunset in the background. Matt and I didn’t say a word; we just sailed back to the island speechless, our hearts filled with awe and amazement.
Once we got to the island we both looked at each other and somehow we knew that we had experienced a life changing event. We had shared a perfect afternoon not only with excellent windsurfing and a wild dolphin, but also with each other as newfound friends. It was one of those magical moments in nature that not many get to experience. For Matt, this moment made his trip to Belize an adventure he’d never forget, his patience paying off in a big way after a week of eager anticipation and disappointment. For me, it was a moment that brightened my life and provided comfort during a challenging time.
Matt and I get together every couple years,
and every time he tells this story we both light up as we relive the moment again. The unexpected brought us together as new friends that day, and even though we each have our own way of telling the story, the experience in Belize years ago has kept us connected.