Sunday morning my friends Eric and Brandon joined me for a standup paddle workout off the Malibu coastline. It was an unusually warm day for mid-winter and we set out for a short jaunt to the pier at Paradise Cove, a little over a mile up the beach. We were cruising along at a good clip, and almost there, when a pod of 12 dolphins surprised us by surfacing near us heading in the opposite direction. And when I say near, I mean some of them were within a few feet – maybe inches – of our boards. Eric suggested we turn around and try to catch them. I was skeptical that we could go fast enough, seeing how quickly they had passed us, but after watching for a minute or so and seeing that they had slowed, we gave chase. Within a few more minutes we had caught up with them, almost as if they had been waiting for us, and we proceeded to paddle slowly with them for the next mile or so. It was incredible to see 12 of these magnificent creatures surface and dive – and expel their loud breaths – within just a few feet of us for so long. I’m sure they were having as much fun as we were. The water was fairly clear, so we could see them down to about 12 feet below us as they looked for food. A few were quite young, but several must have weighed 500-600 pounds. The three of us were in awe of how lucky we were to have hit upon just the right conditions. As we cruised south along the coastline in this motley little parade, many of the beach residents started gathering on their porches to check out the action. We drew quite a crowd.
Ever the diligent photographer, Eric decided to paddle ahead to his beach house and get his camera to try to capture the moment. Brandon and I slowed down as much as we could without losing the dolphins while Eric raced in and set up his camera on his balcony. I have attached a few of the shots he was able to get as we passed by his house. It was truly a magical day (ending with a two-hour Ultimate Frisbee  match, of course).
This is why I train…to play.
Here are a few more pics. (You may need to scroll down the page a bit to view the enlarged versions after clicking the thumbnails.)