Wednesday, July 02, 2008

June 27 – July 2, 2008

Dive Right In!
Dive Right In!

Still Talking Treasure: When Strangers Become Friends

When was the last time, if ever, you introduced yourself to a complete stranger? Parties and work don't count!

It's easy to do when you're cruising. Conversation starters include hearing someone say something interesting on the radio, seeing a boat you want to know more about, passing someone on an island beach with no other people around, lending assistance, weathering the same storm, or seeing a boat in the same anchorage often enough to just introduce yourself. Before you know it you have a real treasure chest of seafaring friends and acquaintances. I smile when I hear one or more of them blowing through their conch shells, an island tradition, to signal the setting of the sun.

Treasure Hunters
Treasure Hunters

That's how we met Janet & Bruce on NO CALL, a Krogen 42', aptly named for a couple who dropped out of the medical profession. Now they have become masters of the sea, cruising full time for almost 10 years, island hopping, spear fishing, diving, and perfecting their hobby of underwater photography and videography. We always look forward to being in the same area with them in hopes of tapping into their cruising data base and lifestyle which is so similar to ours. Eddie and I are hoping to get some serious spear fishing training, and we have already shared water time with 5 hr. snorkel forays out to a few of their favorite marked spots on the near shore reef.

We were invited aboard NO CALL for a soda party to be able to try out a compact machine that carbonates a liter bottle of water using a small CO2 cylinder, and then you add the flavoring of your choice, giving you a fresh bottle of soda. The machine saves all the trouble of having to carry drinks aboard; they take up so much space, add a lot of weight, and are difficult to store. We were pleased with the quality of the soda drink, its ease of use, economy, and portability. Another item to add to our shopping list.

Lloyd's First Taste of Blood

More news in the continuing saga of the undersea adventures of Jacquelyn and Lloyd.

Water temperatures have finally increased to where we can stay in the water for 5 hours without feeling cold and stiff or turning too blue. In fact, some pockets of water are so warm I feel like I'm swimming in a whale pee pool, although I do have to make sure I'm not down current from Lloyd because he says he pees at least 15 times per outing now.

On one snorkel trip we decided to take the short way to the ocean by trying to go out our nearby cut despite having a low tide (we didn't realize that the tide was really 1' lower than normal!) to save time from going the long way around. In two areas we had to push and pull our dinghies through sea grass tidal flats which were actually peeking above the water's surface. That is no small feat considering FIN weighs 800 pounds. By the time we had done this twice for both dinghies we were really beat and decided to take a water break. We also admitted we could have gone the long way twice for what it took us to get through the tidal flats once. Janet gave us one of those bottles that you squirt water into your mouth with. When I opened my mouth for Eddie to squirt the water he, he squeezed the bottle with full force and sent a fire hose sized blast directly into my windpipe, causing my poor lungs to scream out in pain, and the water got shot out right back at Eddie. It was the closest I've ever come to drowning, and I wasn't even submerged in the water!

J & B took us out to a blue hole located a short ways offshore of Manjack Cay, but well within the outer reef. Blue holes are outlets for underground “streams” that run through channels in the limestone. They can be in the ocean or on land and can be fed by fresh or salt water. Since they come from deep within the ground they are cold and generally clear.

The Manjack blue hole is actually a water outlet that shoots out from under and within the crevices and ledges of a big rocky coral head. When you float over the head you can see the clear, water “glowing” a crystalline, almost eerily blue color from the edges of the outlets and then feel the coldness of the water when you swim through it. Bruce has dove 70' down into one crevice, until the light ran out. We saw schools of graceful Atlantic spadefish, which we haven't seen anywhere else around here, but Janet says they are always around this blue hole.

At another site we saw a great grandfather (i.e., gigantic!) lobster crawling right over the surface of a coral head, a rarity in lobster behavior. Since the sun was shining brightly and the coral head was so close to the surface of the water the lobster was fully illuminated, showing all the colors in full splendor that we don't see as we peer at them under ledges or in crevices: purple, green, black, brown, and white. It was fascinating to watch all the legs and antennae purposely probing and reacting to our presence and close observation.

Even Wayne had some aquatic excitement back at FLUKE. A huge manta ray with a 6' wing span was swimming next to the boat, doing back rolls in the water over and over. They have such a funky looking mouth area and the jet black top side contrasts so starkly with its bright white underside. While having seen many other rays, we haven't seen any manta rays on our snorkel expeditions, and have never observed that kind of behavior before, so I was sorry I missed it.

The purpose of our last snorkel trip up to this posting was to combine forces to engage in a lionfish eradication attempt and get some shallow water practice using our spear. Lloyd went fully armed and managed to spear 3 lionfish, ranging in size from 4-6”. The small ones were the most difficult to hit since the spear tip was almost as big as the fish and would slide by the fish. None-the-less, after the first hit, Eddie was hooked and would have happily spent several hours in the water had it not been for the 2 gray reef sharks that showed up, presumably attracted to the spearing activity and dead fish. Their agitated behavior, as demonstrated by circling around us, swimming erratically, and quickly weaving to and fro made us all agree to climb back in our dinghies and head back to our mother ships.

More Neighborhood News

Eddie's Idea of Fun Aboard
Eddie's Idea of Fun Aboard

One morning Wayne and I stopped by Joe's boat (SV Desire) to ask if he wanted to go for a land hike to the ocean side of Manjack and loop back by Half Moon Cove, north of where Carousel was being built. Good thing we weren't on a time schedule since it took us over 3 hours. Sight-seeing was great, but we had a big crowd of mosquitoes with us most of the time when we were in the canopied areas. No time to linger; they have become a nuisance since the rains have fallen.

Geiger Flowers

Wild Allamanda
Wild Allamanda

We had to wade through the water part of the way to shortcut back to a regular path and happened upon an interesting group of little hermit crabs in a sandy patch left by the falling tide. No telling what kind of a meeting they were having!

Hermit Crabfest
Hermit Crabfest

Eddie and I helped with a rescue at sea mission. A sailboat, full of strangers, was aground here in our anchorage. They had lost their prop on the way over from Florida so they couldn't use their engine to help get them unstuck. We took FIN, a powerful dinghy by cruising standards, by to help push on the forward portion of the hull while another dinghy pushed on the aft portion and another sailboat pulled a line strung from the top of its mast. They put up a sail to get some wind assistance, and the boat was freed. The captain offered to buy us a beer at the next port!

We had 18 boats here last night. One of them belongs to a Kathy and Dave (Lemenski) , a guy that Wayne worked with at Telematics/ECI over 7 years ago. It was fun seeing them and hearing about their adventures.

I think there will be more boats here tonight. Cruisers are gathering from afar for the big event happening tomorrow. Even WE are going to the Stranded Naked Beach Party at Fiddle Cay right around the point from where we are anchored. We will be going over in FIN. This free event serves cheeseburgers in paradise, margaritas, and live CD (their terminology) Jimmy Buffet music. It is the opening gala for Regatta Time in Abaco, an annual island sailboat racing and partying time that begins here and moves down the island chain.

Stranded Naked Party
Stranded Naked Party

I'm not sure when I'll get to make another post. Not because of being at Stranded Naked! We plan to head north with NO CALL tomorrow afternoon and anchor at some of the more remote cays, and I don't know if we will get another WiFi connection while we are in the Abacos. Instead, we hope will be elevating our hunting and gathering skills to a new level, and will have exciting stories to share of catching and eating our game and other out island adventures.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post with stunning pics. I got to learn new things from this.