Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Under the sea...with company. Plus exploration and other progress.

Busy week! I ran into Don and Catherine while on my morning walk and invited them to sail. It turned out to be their last day, so we went to Hurricane Hole to see the nearly unique ecosystem of corals growing on the roots of mangroves. Very beautiful. I had first discovered it a couple days earlier when the wind made me wonder about going to the more exposed Flanagan Island with Carrie, another person I had met. On that first trip we even captured, examined, and released an arrow crab: they look a lot like spiders! Wonderful place! And I would probably not have gone there if not for meeting someone who said "let's go somewhere I can't get by car". I have no photos, but there are some online of the mangrove coral community and of arrow crabs.

And here are a couple pics from the Dorado Guest Book:

Yesterday and today, when I dropped anchor at Hanson Beach, a long, sinuous, emaciated, sharklike critter swam around my boat. I would say it measured between 2.5' and 3'...and when I looked closely at it underwater, I realized it was a remora and was probably living attached to my boat. I hope it does not starve since my boat is probably not a very good place to find food.
This morning I also emerged from my cabin, a few minutes after dropping anchor at Hansen, to see two porpoises making their relaxed way away from my boat. I jumped into the cabin and brought out my camera, but got nothing more than indistinct gray shapes under the water. Still, very exciting!
Saw LOTS of turtles this morning: apparently morning is a far better time to see them than mid-day. Also tried, a few days ago, to seine up some of the huge school of silversides (?) I saw at Hansen Beach, but they are incredibly good at avoiding anything that looks like weeds or whatever, probably due to evolving in an environment in which "plants" are often sessile animals that sting and "shelter" is often hiding a predator. Shelter is found in shallow water where the pelicans will dive down and eat your attackers and numbers that confuse the eye.
Anything else? Well, I'm going to sail over to Salt Pond Bay to spend the night on the NPS mooring. In the morning I hope to hike a nice trail on Ram's Head and then swim before going to the yoga class. Classes make me nervous, so wish me luck! And it is likely to rain around dawn...

A couple thunderstorms have come through, close enough to see flashes, but not to see bolts or hear thunder. I have mixed feelings about this: I love lightning and thunder, but I sit a few feet from a 50' aluminum mast....

Lots of leaks in various places in the deck: clearly I did not get them all last fall! Still, things are improving and I continue to make steps, but am often displeased by the ones that seem to go backward:
Leaks in var places.
At least two voids in the cabin roof (easy to hear when I tap...but I've filled one with epoxy quite nicely)
Age/wear damage to the mainsail. (Will I need to buy a new one soon? Ouch!)
lost my kayak paddle....AGAIN!
cutting my hand slightly on lobster spines
missed the yoga class

There are more good/forward items:
becoming more comfortable on my boat and keeping it in better order
finding great new places to dive (just dove in Reef Bay yesterday and hope that I can often find days when conditions are peaceful for diving there)
grabbing a spiny lobster at Reef Bay
meeting interesting folks (& I got advice on catching lobsters with a mop..)
finding new places to moor & learning the regs (
fixing leaks and voids!
finding good places to walk, despite the heat/humidity (hiking up Carolina, a steep road, just before dawn & in the rain or wind often works well)
talking to new folks about getting a new paddle and finding a seller in St Thomas.
swimming with a remora
beautiful sunrises

a great deal on diving stuff ($15 for this bunch!)

nice sailing, sometimes letting the boat sail itself!

swimming with a 3.5' barracuda, a school of little jacks (some rubbed against the barracuda!), and a small school of trunkfish, all of whom seemed very happy to see me and my boat.

And, finally, the bungee I added to my kayak painter has made a world of difference in the impact force when it hits the end on a downwind run. I used to wince every time it would surf down a wave, then take up the slack with a audible "whack!". Amazing how much tension and stress a little change like that can relieve.

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