We left the beach on which we'd enjoyed second breakfast and threaded between small rocky islands around Rubh Arisaig. Our plan was to paddle through the Arisaig skerries on a rising tide, going where we could in the shallow channels.
We'd been back out in the boats less than ten minutes when the familiar sound of dolphins exhaling was heard - the pod had hung around for us and were heading back to play. There's something uniquely thrilling about the sight of dorsal fins breaking the surface and heading straight for you at speed, this pod were clearly keen for company!
We were once again treated to close interaction as the dolphins streaked from one kayak to the other.....
...making close passes as they did so - it's behind you David! Rather than sitting and waiting for them to come to us, this time we kept up a steady paddling speed.....
.....except when we were treated to aerial acrobatics! We still didn't manage to catch a photograph of a dolphin in mid air, just splashes as they re-entered the water - it was fun trying though :o)
Image by Mike Connor
The dolphins had been attracted to Donald's boat previously, but he'd taken a different route to us. As an experiment, I wound up to the fastest paddling pace I could manage - and this also worked. My GPS recorded a sprinting speed of 11km/h - a mere jog for a dolphin and I was overhauled in seconds, enjoying the unique experience of one dolphin surging along each side of me at just a metre or so away, with another under the kayak.
I clearly felt the hydraulic "lift" of its tail as it powered along below me. This is the one and only time I wish I'd had a Go-Pro camera - it was an absolutely exhilarating "race". Unfortunately I could sustain the sprint for just a couple of minutes......
...and when I stopped in the water, they came back as if trying to encourage me to have another go!
Eventually, as we made our way into shallower water, the pod left us to continue north. A final flourish from our companions and they headed out into the glittering waters of the Sound of Arisaig - leaving us with priceless memories.
Any interaction with these wonderful wild creatures is a privilege; especially as the dolphins had initiated the contact. It's impossible not to be uplifted by the experience and the two special hours we spent with this pod won't be forgotten by any of us.