Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dancing with Dolphins.

Paradise.....I've been there.
Hardly a day goes by without some dire happening that casts doubts about the existence of a supreme, all powerful deity. Ones beliefs become uncertain and at times are discarded as mere fantasy when nature and mankind create and cause horrific catastrophes all too often. During December 1962 however, I happened to be in the right place at the right time and experienced a physical and spiritual presence that moved me to tears. Paula kissed me, Ron didn’t.......thank God for small mercies.



Paula and I were enjoying the surf and each other's company near what is known as the Hole in the Wall at North Avalon. It was a beautiful warm summer's day with a well shaped 4 to 5 foot surf gently rolling in. Even the water temperature was warmer than normal for this time of the year. Ahh! Wonderful weather, warm water, good surf and the company of an extremely pretty blonde headed female companion, could life get any better?
I was about to find out, yes it could.

Polly and my good self were joined by Denise Ware's dad Ron and after a few waves, a pod of around 8 to 10 bottle nose dolphins was seen approaching from the south. Polly caught a wave to the beach as she had heard that dolphins may attract a Noah’s ark. She was joined by the three young school waggers who had been surfing with us as well. I pleaded with Polly to remain out the back with Ron and I, but she was honest enough to admit she would be too nervous surrounded by Dolphins. She insisted she would return once the pod had left. Ron was wearing a peaked cap with a ping pong ball sewn on its top, so it would float. He placed it on his Malibu and asked me to look after them while he chased after the dolphins. He was delighted to have these beautiful creatures join us for a playful frolic.

I remained seated astride my board while he was attempting to hitch a ride on the back of a dolphin. Two cheeky dolphins surfaced off my port bow and were giving me the once over, while I was attempting to start up an intelligent conversation with them. Three times one of them moved forward and deliberately tipped my board over, sending me in for a swim. These two mischief makers were laughing at me every time I fell off the board. After the third dunking I spun the board around to face the beach and was amazed when the dunking dolphin lined up alongside the boards right hand side and leaned hard up against my leg. The other fish must have had an itchy nose, because he or she started rubbing it against my left knee. I leaned forward and began to gently rub my hand under the chin of the dolphin on my right and it did exactly what a cat does when having it's chin tickled. It stretched its head forward and seemed to be loving every second of the attention I was  giving it. I began to openly cry. The situation remained unchanged for at least the next minute or so, then I heard Ron, who was treading water and watching all this unfold say, “Pogo, you must be blessed.” With genuine tears of emotion trickling down my cheeks, I could do no more than agree with him. Here was a wild creature of the sea leaning on me and allowing me to hug and gently stroke its body and tickle its chin, while another used my leg as a scratching post. I actually prayed and pleaded out loud, “If I die now, please let Heaven be this moment for all eternity.” 

Even today I can still recall sensing a Divine presence during that unforgettable encounter. After a further short frolic, the pod returned to the southern end of the beach and spent the rest of the day feeding and wave riding. 

My cheeks were kept warm by the tears that kept flowing, even after Polly rejoined us. She had been a witness to what had taken place and noticing my emotional state, she paddled over and parked right alongside me. She surprised me by using language normally regarded by her to be ‘not very nice.’  She smiled at me, then gently placed her hand on my shoulder and whispered, "You lucky bastard Pogo," then leaned forward and kissed me softly on the cheek. All I was able to do was fall off my malibu. My God I loved Paula during moments such as this. I heard Ron comment, "Wow! You really are a lucky bastard Pogo."

Kevin Costner may think himself lucky to have danced with wolves, but he was not as lucky as me that Thursday morning in December 1962 when at North Avalon I was indeed truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to swim and play with wild dolphins and then be kissed by an extremely pretty, blonde young lady and thankfully, not by Ron.


                                                           VALE   Ron Ware                                                                   
I have only just found out that my surfing companion in this tale passed away in Byron Bay during July 2011  aged 86. He died peacefully in Hospital surrounded by family members.
Ron was indeed a Master Mariner whose links with the sea spanned his whole life. He served in the Air Force, Merchant Navy and the Royal Australian Navy and was a Great, Great, Great, Great Grandson of the Bounty's Captain William Bligh. He had a fondness for all things surf and ocean related. Considering the above story, it was interesting to note when he carried out an investigation relating to a shark attack at Evans Head in 1989, he concluded that dolphins went to the aid of the surfer and were attempting to drive off the shark.                                                 
I would not know where to begin to list his lifelong achievements, there are literally so many. My belated condolences to Denise and Stuart, along with all the other family members.

Rest in Peace Captain Ron.

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