Tuesday, April 19, 2011

ooooh, barracuda

Night number two brought a much more restful night's sleep. After another yummy breakfast, (a side note here, Debbie cooked and cooked and cooked for us, three meals a day, way beyond the call of duty or what I had expected, thank you, we are not an easy bunch to cook for and I will endlessly feel guilty and grateful) hopped into the dinghy and zoomed around an outcropping of rocks to snorkel at the Caves. As one might imagine, Aaron was a little apprehensive about going into the water again, but he was brave and gave it a try. After getting into the water, he came to the conclusion that he would stay in the dinghy, so we hoisted a drippy Aaron back in. Jason and I were going to take turns but Captain Bob generously offered to stay with him. As I readied myself to get into the water Jason and Isaac were noticeably excited about something when they raised their heads and exclaimed there was a huge barracuda swimming away. I hopped in as quick as I could, which perhaps seems a little counterintuitive, to try to catch a glimpse but he was gone before I could see him. The three of us explored the mouths of the caves together where there were loads of schools of colorful fish hanging out. As we were heading back to the dinghy over the coral reefs, schools of fish followed us, it was really fun to look back and see all of them trailing behind us. When we got to the dinghy, Jason and Isaac got out first while I continued to gaze around. Off of the starboard side of the dinghy, about twenty feet from me were two...very. Large. Barracudas. They looked about six feet long and they were just hanging out, with their really big, really sharp teeth, not bothering anybody. At this point I declared that I was ready to get back into the dinghy. Jason didn't quite believe me so he donned his mask and put his face in the water, confirming that those were in fact, very large barracudas and maybe I should get back into the dinghy now. After safely arriving back at the sailboat with no bites missing from us, we set sail for Norman Island. Our lessons were progressing smoothly, Jason had even completed his first written test with flying colors and in record time the night before. We took turns at the helm, but Captain Bob kept telling me that I had to be the one at the helm because Jason was the brute force behind the sails, which I took a little offense to especially because I really liked working the sails on Martha and hadn't gotten to touch them on this boat yet. I should also confess something....I am a really terrible helmsman. I have a really hard time keeping the boat at the correct point of sail, especially when it's choppy. I drive a boat the same way that I drive in Mario Kart, which is not good. I tend to get a little panicky and oversteer when the boat doesn't react as quickly as a car, but with practice I am sure that I will get better. Upon arrival to Norman Island, we discovered there were no mooring balls left so we would have to anchor for the night. So begins the anchoring lesson. The goal is to anchor at a depth of about 25 feet, into the wind with enough room so that you don't hit anything if you swing around during the night. The captain chose a spot around a rocky outcropping from the crowded mooring area. It seemed like a good choice with the wind coming from the land and the right depth, so we set anchor. Within minutes of setting anchor the wind direction changed and we began to drift in all the wrong directions. Worried that we may hit something if we stayed, we pulled up anchor and headed to the next cove where the wind was steadily coming from land and there was more room to swing. This time was a success and we had a gorgeous blue-green, boulder-lined cove all to ourselves. Now, this is much more like what I had imagined the Virgin Islands to be like. We had been on the boat for two days and some of us (me, who has some being-stuck-on-a-boat-all-the-time issues, Aaron who has I-need-to-hike issues, and Pika, who was having not-adjusting-to-nautical-life-as-quickly-as-we-had-hoped-especially-in-the-pottying-department issues), were anxious to set foot on land again so we asked the captain if maybe he could drop us off on shore so that we could explore. On shore we got lots of fun playing in. With our wobbly sea legs, we explored through the bushes, up and over boulders, as Aaron, of course, pushed to go as high as we could. Isaac found a coconut which he affectionately carried around in hopes of keeping it, we were sad to inform him that customs would make sure that wouldn't happen. We found parts of conch shells, watched the chihuahua run as fast as her little chihuahua legs would take her with much chihuahua delight, boulder-hopped across fossilized brain coral rocks and watched the sun set behind the sailboat. It was really nice to get to explore the land in addition to the sea. Captain Bob picked us up and we went back to the boat to enjoy another delicious meal. It was a really nice day.

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