Cynthia remains in the winter cold and darkness in Cape Cod, but says the warm blanket of insulation in the attic makes a big difference: she used to have an effective thickness of about 2" of insulation and now has 16". Still, she looks forward to coming down here in March. I look forward to it, too... and look forward to heading north with her a couple weeks later.
A report in January placed seven lionfish at the deep reef between Hansen Bay and Haulover, so I sailed over at gray dawn, dropped anchor, and entered the water at sunrise. Nine spotted, eight speared shot, seven recovered. I also found the remains of a remote control drone.
The thing I found really interesting is that one of the lionfish had a clean bite out of its tail: I guess an eel or shark took a bite. I am very glad to know that predators are learning to recognize them as food and hope that this holds their numbers down eventually, allowing them to become a part of a healthy ecosystem rather than the current situation.
In the meantime, Diane, a friend of hers is visiting the islands with her fellow, Steve, and I took them out sailing and snorkeling.... and then again two days later. We sailed from the mooring to Water Creek where we found an octopus too far from its den. In defense, the octopus clasped a rock and changed color to instantly become nearly invisible. I had to actually touch it to show it to Diane and Steve. I've never seen anything like it... but had left Cynthia's camera on Dorado. Sorry! We also caught a mooring in Salt Pond and enjoyed that, although the waves lately have been pretty rough and sloshed us about and diminished water clarity. A final snorkel took us from Otter Creek (where we found many large thorny starfish) to Princess Creek where we found a large live conch and a nice Nassau grouper, an endangered species that we like to report on a tracking website.
Diane and Steve also helped me re-set the speedometer through-hull that sprang a leak. I figured that I COULD do it alone.... and only let ten gallons of water into the boat.... but we three did it in under an hour with under a pint of water! Very nice, considering that we replaced a 2" fitting 3' below the water line! Nope, didn't take photos of that, either!
When Cynthia last departed, we caught a ride to Cruz Bay with Danielle, a gal who has traded a life of business in NYC for contemplative work maintaining a local property. Cynthia encouraged her to go out sailing with me and, when she returns, with us. We sailed to Salt Pond (where I repaired a park mooring), to Booby Rock (where we snorkeled and got sloshed about in the waves), and to Water Creek (where I showed her the feather duster worms(link) that, I'm sure, were the models for some of the jungle creatures in Avatar. And she really enjoyed rapidly gaining competence and confidence sailing.
Once I dropped her at the dinghy dock, I could not resist stopping by and chatting with my next-door neighbor Zack as he tested his new hammock strung high above his deck. He invited me aboard his old and ragged boat and I had to admire the fact that he focused on things like an excellent fridge and stove and mattress rather than on a glossy paint job. Good priorities!
Thoreau lived in a tiny house on Walden Pond and, rather than spending his time making money to build or support a big lifestyle, spent his time and money socializing with friends. So many folks I know are lonely, partly because they are too darned busy supporting their lifestyle and partly because our large houses allow us to live inside in isolated comfort, enjoying warmth and Netflix and TV. Part of the attraction of the whole tiny house movement is to make a house that pushes one out to visit with others, to sit in the yard, to go to a coffee shop. Making friends, sharing ideas and plans, enjoying serendipitous encounters: this adds to aliveness.
One thing I love (and love to share) is sunrise sails... and very few folks are ready to rise and shine before the sun does. Perhaps I am cheating since I live right here on my boat and need walk only about fifty feet to set sail. Still, this morning I did yoga and then waited a bit longer for enough light to see moorings, then sailed out of the harbor using cleats instead of winches for the jib so as not to disturb sleepers aboard boats as I tacked past them. By the time I cleared the mooring field, the sun neared the horizon. I caught a mooring in Johnson Bay, ground my coffee in the hand mill, and brewed up a batch as the first electrons started to trickle from my solar panels. Nice way to start a day. Can't wait to have Cynthia back to share it with me.