Busy day yesterday! I woke very late and missed sunrise, but still did yoga on the bow of the boat. Then off to breakfast of banana bread and coffee and The Simpsons (there was a marathon running on the TV at Pickles). Then off to explore the reef Peter had told me about, one unmarked on the park map!
After pulling into Princess Creek in Hurricane Hole and catching a park mooring, I paddled over to the dive spot and slid in. Beautiful! Lots of nice elkhorn coral and nice fish, much more than most other places I've been and exceptional for a place this accessible.
As I explored the shore I found schools of little fish, clusters of 3, 2, 2, and 1 lobsters, a BIG pufferfish (maybe 10 lbs), loads of dead coral and quite a bit of live stuff.....and something that looks like fire coral.....and a *%^$ LIONFISH, a tremendously invasive and destructive species in the Caribbean and one I have not seen in the wild. I marked the location with landmarks, then looked online for who to call (“Lion busters!”...well, actually some government sponsored dive group allowed to kill them in the National Monument.)
3:43am: Was sitting awake, watching stars, when an extraordinarily bright light shone on the water, my boat, and Angel's Rest (Peter's bar). It came from the road and I saw other orange lights...and sure looked like a police car. And then they drove onto the beach property and shone lights about and three people walked around. I waved, but said nothing. I assumed they were here in response to some complaint by Vi, the neighbor who has been squatting on the land for a couple decades. By 4 they had left and I tried to sleep.
9:10 Damn, damn, damn! This has NOT been a good day so far. Mosquito bites (including one on center of upper lip!), clutch/cleat for main halyard failed, got a slosh of fresh water through my open cockpit portlight and into my tool bin, saw the lionfish hunting and had no spear, I hooked my prop on my mooring and had to go under and deal with it...and nearly struck another boat, Tracey's boat is on the rocks and I'm not sure if she is ok or missing. On the other hand, I marked the lionfish and watching it hunt was fascinating, freed my boat, and have reasonable hope Tracey is ok.
More on lionfish: at 7ish, I paddled over to the lionfish spot and slipped into the water. Dove to the exact hiding place and found three lobsters, but no lionfish! I looked about, then saw it hovering over some unsuspecting little fish, pretending to be a harmless bit of seaweed. Of course, most things that appear to be seaweed here are really stinging gorgonians or other weird relatives of jellyfish or corals, so it is harder to hunt that way than it would be at the Cape where all seaweed is a wonderful and harmless hiding place. It did not catch anything while I watched, but I ached to have a spear in hand, to take action, to taste some nice poached lionfish fillets. I'll have to get a good spear in St Thomas. And I wonder if they hunt at first light and if that might be a far easier time to find them than later in the day when they are digesting meals in their quiet coral nooks where I can't see them well and will dull my spear points.
Lionfish gps location is 18deg 21.163' N, 64deg 42.001W
5pm: OK, fixed clutch/cleat and cracked teak handrail near bow of boat and found a rather fast leak in my water system that was emptying the tank in a matter of days. On the neg side: stomach unhappy... and ran into a moored boat... and nearly into a second one! I attribute the impact to being way off in some way: tired or ….just off. Perhaps I'm upset at the missing acquaintance. Her boat was on the rocks with the sails up. This means to me that she was not aboard when it struck.....but why not? Perhaps her little dog fell overboard and she jumped in after and the boat sailed on. And the most probably reason I can think of for her to still be missing is that, well, she never made it to shore. Damn, that really sucks...and is darned scarey as well. Add that onto the lionfish, fire coral, tangling my prop on my mooring, a leaking thru-hull fitting, and hitting another boat (and needing to face the music on that) and there is a pile of things to fear and dislike.
8pm: Sailed back to Hansen Beach and had a drink with Peter. His place was shut up fairly tight with no customers aboard, so I assumed he was off somewhere. I called and we chatted a bit and it turned out he was aboard, less than a hundred feet away....and Tracey was fine (hooray!), just spent the night on the rocks (or maybe on the boat) after going in after the dog, putting the dog aboard, then the boat sailing onto the rocks without her. The story is a bit muddled, but I'll ask her. Peter lost a sandal and stepped on an urchin and damaged his outboard while getting her boat off the rocks.
So, that is very good news re Tracey, bummer for Peter (although she says she will fix his outboard).…. and I am NOT looking forward to dealing with the damaged boat....and will do it asap to get it off my mind. And I know now that I need to have a clear mind (and clean boat bottom!) to sail in close quarters.
So, what to do with this distress, this darkening of the light in my life? What the heck, relax and read now, work on that later.