Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Snorkeling for the first time

Kristen here - After the wonderful shark sighting yesterday, I stayed up until 3AM last night researching sharks and how to avoid them. Every time I felt sleepy, images of shark attacks came rushing through my head. So I armed myself with information. As it turns out there are very few species of shark that attack unprovoked. They also only feed from dusk till dawn. Most websites just said don't snorkel at night and don't provoke a shark. Duh! Who would provoke a shark?

This morning I woke up at 9AM and went for a run around the island. I found a nature trail and a shark research center. Oh good, another reminder. The nature trail was really nice and had lots of informative markers. I will have to bring the kids through that later. When I got back to the boat, we gathered laundry together and started 2 loads while I took my shower. In order to conserve laundry and water, I've taken to showering while stomping on my running clothes. I lather up my hair with shampoo while still in my running clothes. Then I take them off and stomp on them while conditioning my hair. They actually come out smelling better than when they've gone through the wash!

When the laundry was finally done, it was around 3:00. That would put us in snorkeling territory at 3:30 to 4:00. Hmmm....I think I'm still a bit nervous. 4:00 seems a bit close to dusk to me. The kids were excited, and a bit nervous as well, but I didn't want my feelings to rub off on them. It was also an unusually calm day with no swell to push us around. The next couple of days are suposed to be wavy, so today could be our only chance to snorkel for a while. I knew in my heart that my fears were irrational and unfounded, so I decided to conquer them right away. We all piled into the dinghy and headed for the back side of the island, where a local told us there was some good snorkeling. We motored around a bit and saw nothing but a flat grassy bottom. Certainly nothing that looked like an ideal snorkeling spot. Off in the distance we could see the wreck of the sapona standing out of the water. We had researched that spot and knew it was favorable. We also saw another sailboat anchored next to it. Nothing seemed to be eating them, so we all decided to go there.

On the dinghy ride to the sapona, we saw huge starfish, empty conch shells discarded by the conch fishermen, odd looking round things with black dots on top of them, no 14 foot man eating sharks, and a few fish. When we arrived at the sapona, the sailboat people were just swimming back to their boat and pulling up anchor. The sun was still mostly overhead, so we all donned or snorkel gear and hopped into the water. Ok, Chris went first and then we all followed. After working out some kinks and learning how to breathe with a snorkel, we all swam up to the wreck. It was really amazing. There were many schools of colorful fish inside and around the wreck. A school of needle nose gar swam at the surface. There were also a lot of clear colored, very hard to see jellyfish in the water. You could tell when you bumped into one because it felt like a mosquito bite. Casey got hit first, and then we all got hit. After a while we got used to it, and just brushed them away or delt with the sting. After watching the fish and coral for 1/2 hour or so, the shadows started creeping in, and I started getting nervous again. Chris agreed that it was time to go. If there is another calm day, we will surely be back to check out more of the sapona.

On the way back, I patted myself on the back for conquering my fear. Adventure doesn't come to those who don't venture. I'm sure my fear will be there next time, and it's good to be careful, but I won't let irrationality keep me from enjoyment.

We sped back to the marina and watched the fish, coral, grass and sand pass beneath us. I am mezmorized by watching the sea floor pass by. When we were in Lake Champlain, one of my favorite activities was to lean over the front of the dinghy and watch the bottom while Casey drove. Here you don't even have to lean over, you can see straight to the bottom when you are just sitting on the edge of the dinghy! Its amazing!

Oh! Happy St. Patricks day to everyone! We had the traditional corned beef and cabbage for dinner tonight. Thank goodness I remembered to buy some before we left Florida. There is even some left over for sandwiches and hash tomorrow. Yum!

The weather is supposed to turn nasty with swell building to 9-10 feet on Saturday. It looks like we are going to hang out here until after then. We can't cross the Grand Bahama Banks with it's 10-15 foot depths in 10 foot swell! We would be bumping across the bottom the whole way! So tomorrow we are going to check out the nature trail, the shark center and go geocaching. Yes there are even geocaches in South Bimini! We also still have to check out Alice Town in North Bimini.

Ta ta for now!

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