Sunday, November 15, 2015

Lionfish with my lass!

OK, the chainplate has been replaced with one I ordered from Texas. Unfortunately, shipping went a bit wonky and it did not arrive before Cynthia did. In the meantime, I used my cracked one with a home-made reinforcing plate. According to Murphy's Law, one will experience extraordinarily rough conditions when least prepared... and this is when Tropical Storm Kate came through. Fortunately, we were mostly at mooring.... and I'm pretty darned sure the patch would have held even in a knock-down.

So... Cynthia arrived, completely worn out by work and trip preparations and the trip itself, so I brought her to the boat, gave her dinner, and showed her the bed. I've been informed that an essential ingredient to her visiting me here is decent sleep, so the bed has three inches of firm foam topped with two of soft. Pretty darned comfortable for me and I'm glad she seconds the opinion.... although it still took her four days to recover.

In the meantime, we sailed and hunted lions! First to Hansen Bay, where we snorkeled at mid-day and saw nothing. We continued to Leinster Bay, mooring by Waterlemon Cay, and took an evening dive and saw one of the four lionfish I had seen a few days before. In the morning, we paddled far upwind, then snorkeled back... and managed to kill an even dozen, including the three we could not find the night before! We fed two back to the lobsters and brought the other ten back for photos....
Checked stomach contents...
Then chopped up the remains and consigned them to the briny deep...

Then off to Henley Cay, a small island just off the north-west of St John, where a lionfish had been reported a few days before. We moored for the night nearby and then sailed ten minutes to get into the water at dawn there at dawn... and there was the lionfish... and another. And nearby were two more! After considerable searching, we found a fifth and called the hunt complete. The two big fish were the two largest we caught on the trip.
And had had not had time to get much breakfast before we interrupted them:

Well, we continued this way for the rest of her visit, snorkeling an average of two to three hours each dawn, often in places that no one else visited. Once we found a big underwater boulder with six lionfish around it.... as well as a tiny little baby drum. We left the drum undisturbed and with a much improved life expectancy. Our total for the trip was thirty confirmed kills, so we figure that should save the lives of hundreds of little reef fish each week.

My lass brought down an inexpensive underwater camera so we could identify fish. She spent hours upon hours taking photos of reef fish, especially at Salt Pond and in the Hurricane Hole mangroves (I spent part of that time fixing the sail and installing the new chainplate. Finally!).

Cynthia shot pics of so many interesting fish and other creatures and by the end of the trip our heads were spinning from all the new names and instead of thinking "hmm...another fish" we would think "nice french grunt... and there's a blue-striped grunt!...and a dog snapper! And what the heck is THAT?" Fun, but all that work of recruiting new brain cells tired me out!

We returned to my mooring on 11/11 to find Peter's dinghy had overturned when Kate blew through, dumping contents and outboard onto the seabed. NOT good. We flipped it over and bailed it out and gave him a call. One of the mitigations of the joy of boat living is that your house can sink.

On the 12th, we woke at 4am and caught the 5am bus to Cruz Bay where she caught the 6am ferry to St Thomas and the airport and home. I took the bus back home and the bus driver passed out nice sweet ripe star fruit: tasty!

Since she left, I've met some interesting folks and one fellow, Carl, told me about sea hares at the dinghy dock. These are huge and drab sea slugs, quite rare around here but, for some reason, mating in heaps by the dock. The eggs look like spaghetti and the slugs look like compost that breaths. Pretty darned cool! Here is a mating pile....

 I miss the gal and look forward to Cape Cod 11/25! Cynthia met some dog rescue folks at the airport and we may act as volunteer transportation winging them north to new homes, but details are yet unknown. And, of course, I look forward to having her down here again


  1. great post - happy to be reading your adventures together again!