Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Sailors Guide

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

THE SAILORS GUIDE (R8x32) 3C (4C set) Barry Skelton Dolphin Book

1- 8 1s cross RH, cast 1 place, dance ½ reel of 3 across (Lady with 2s and Man with 3s) and 1s end with 1L facing her 1st corner with partner behind her
9-16 1s turn 1st corners RH, partner LH, 2nd corner RH and partner LH to face Lady's 1st corner (Man behind Lady)
17-24 1s dance Alternating Tandem ½ reel of 3 with 1st corners and Alternating Tandem ½ reel with 2nd corner
25-32 1s dance up to top (Lady on Man's right), cast to 2nd place and dancing between 3 dance ½ reels of 3 on sides. 213

(MINICRIB, Dance Crib compiled by Charles Upton, Deeside Caledonian Society, and his successors)


Dance Information

This dance, The Sailors Guide, comes from the Dolphin Book by Barry Skelton and is probably a reference to the many dolphins that have been known to guide sailors through difficult passages.

The most well known dolphin which used to guide sailors was Pelorus Jack (a dance also from Barry Skelton's Dolphin Book), a Risso's dolphin that was famous for meeting and escorting ships through a stretch of water in the Marlborough Sounds, nearby Pelorus Sound, near Cook Strait, New Zealand, between 1888 and 1912.

Pelorus Jack was usually spotted in Admiralty Bay between Cape Francis and Collinet Point, near French Pass, a channel used by ships travelling between Wellington and Nelson.

This dance features a set of alternating tandem half-reels (or hays) where two people act as one but swap who leads at the reel ends, this has now become known as a Dolphin Reel.

Pelorus Jack was approximately 13 feet (4 m) long and was of a white color with grey lines or shadings, and a round, white head. Although its sex was never determined, it was identified from photographs as a very uncommon species in New Zealand waters, Risso's dolphin, Grampus Griseus.

Pelorus Jack was first seen around 1888 when it appeared in front of the schooner Brindle when the ship approached French Pass, a channel located between D'Urville Island and the South Island. When the members of the crew saw the dolphin bobbing up and down in front of the ship, they wanted to kill him, but the captain's wife talked them out of it. To their amazement, the dolphin then proceeded to guide the ship through the narrow channel. And for years thereafter, he safely guided almost every ship that came by. With rocks and strong currents, the area is dangerous to ships, but no shipwrecks occurred when Jack was present.

In 1904, someone aboard the SS Penguin tried to shoot Pelorus Jack with a rifle. Despite the attempt on his life, Pelorus Jack continued to help ships. According to folklore, however, he no longer helped the Penguin, which shipwrecked in Cook Strait in 1909.

Following the shooting incident, he became protected by Order In Council under the Sea Fisheries Act on 26 September 1904. It is believed that he was the first individual sea creature protected by law in any country.

Jack was last seen in April 1912. There were various rumours connected to his disappearance, including fears that foreign whalers might have harpooned him. However, research suggests that Pelorus Jack was an old animal; his head was white and his body pale, both indications of age, so it is likely that he died of natural causes.

Risso's Dolphins - Information Video

Pelorus Jack - Risso's Dolphin
Pelorus Jack, Photo Taken By Capt. C. F. Post, Of The N.Z. Govt. SS Tutanekai, 1911

Pelorus Jack - Risso's Dolphin
Risso's Dolphin Like Pelorus Jack


Dance Information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence.
Text from this original Pelorus Jack article on Wikipedia.
Text from this original Risso's Dolphin article on Wikipedia.
Upper Image Copyright original uploader Neil916 at English Wikipedia. (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Lower Image Copyright Mike Baird.

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