Dolphins are incredibly intelligent animals. Often, you hear people compare their intelligence to that of Humans, but I feel that dolphins are intelligent enough to be insulted by such a comparison.
They are social animals and they seek out special ways to entertain themselves. This often means that you will see dolphins playing around your yacht as you sail, and most famously: bow riding.
When you are sailing along at a good speed, dolphins will swim up and jump around just ahead of your yacht. You will be cutting through the waves and they will be jumping around inches from your hull.
Thankfully, this epic display of marine mammal swimming prowess is not an uncommon sight, and dolphins seem to seek you out as a source of entertainment. Since they are intelligent and are doing this for their entertainment as well, it seems that bow riding is a two way street which requires input from the crew of the yacht to make happen.
We have found that dolphins will only bow ride if certain events occur. If any of these events fail to occur, then they will simply swim by and go on to other waters.
First, the dolphins will spot your yacht in the distance and swim twoards it from the stern. As they approach, they will begin jumping out of the water as if you get your attention.
Second, they will come up next to your cockpit and display their presence with amazing jumps from the water. This is when input from the humans on the yacht becomes relevant for the game to proceed. If the humans fail to comply, the dolphins will swim on. If the humans comply, the dolphins will then proceed to bow ride.
The humans on the boat need to point loudly and shout with excitement and joy at the presence of the dolphins. It greatly helps if more crew emerge from the cabin and come out into the cockpit. This seems to excite the dolphins and more will begin to emerge from the depths.
Third, at least one human needs to walk forward to the bow, but the more people that walk forward, the more likely the dolphins are to bow ride.
Fourth, as the humans walk forward, the dolphins will also begin to move towards the bow of the yacht. When you are forward of the mast, the dolphins will then begin swimming inches from the bow and jumping around in the waves as your yacht cuts through them.
Speed helps in motivating the dolphins, but if you are slow moving, the dolphins will still hang around for a while, just in a much more sedate manner. It seems that the faster you are sailing, the more the dolphins find joy in bow riding.
Fifth, just because the dolphins began bow riding doesn’t mean they will stay around for long. To keep them there it helps to shout with joy and excitement at the different tricks the dolphins display. Cheers seem to motivate them more and will cause them to jump higher, faster, and in synchronized groups.
Innevitably, the dolphins will tire and will move on to new waters. Your little island of a boat will once again be alone in the ocean, that is until more dolphins descend upon you.
We have found that if you fail to carry out any of these steps, the dolphins will simply pass by and move on without putting on much of any show. Dolphins are amazing creatures, and it seems that bowriding is as much a form of entertainment for them as it is for us, so if you want to be entertained by them, you must offer some form of entertainment in return!