Thursday, January 17, 2008

Photo Essay

With our limited internet connectivity over the past weeks there have been a couple of noteworthy places and events and their associated pictures that haven't earned mention in any of our posts. I thought I'd round them all up and post them here.

Up the Mast

In San Juan we had an ideal anchorage for going up the mast - calm and protected. I had purchased spare halyards (the lines you pull the sails up with) and sheaves, and so up the mast I prepared to go. Not willing to spend $300+ on a new type of bosun's chair that lets you climb the mast yourself (rather than be winched up), I had purchased a mountain climber's harness and learned a couple of climber's knots that would allow me to do the same thing. Fifty feet doesn't sound like much, but damn it was a lot of work getting up there. Lizz and I worked together to get the new halyards threaded through the mast, and none too soon. I don't know how mountain climbers do it. Those harnesses aren't the most comfortable things in the world and they sqeeze a bit too hard in all the wrong places. As it was, by the time I got down my personal private region was just about blue.

Culebrita

Culebrita is a small, deserted island about 3 miles east of Culebra - our favorite spot to date. On a calm, warm day we decided to dinghy over to check it out. It is absolutely spectacular. Riding over in the dinghy we could easily see the bottom in thirty feet of water. On the north side of the island is an open bay with a beautiful, wide, soft sand beach. It was like swimming in a very large swimming pool! At the northeastern tip of the bay is a large rock formation with natural baths. The baths are filled with crystal clear water and life - fish, sea slugs, snails, sea urchins. We relaxed on the beach, swam in the water, and hiked over the baths. Unfortunately we had to leave earlier than we wanted - we didn't realize the island was completely deserted and we didn't bring any food.

Fish on...Wahoo!!

The passage from Culebra to St. Thomas is a short 18 miles in a straight line, about 30 or so when you take into account that we had to tack our way to windward to get there. As continued evidence of our new found fishing prowess, a mere 30 minutes after dropping our lines in the water we had a fish on the line. At the end of our hand line was a 24" Wahoo, a type of tuna. What a beautiful creature! No scales, just smooth irrredescent skin with a marbled patern of dark blue, light blue, and pink on his upper half. We felt bad about killing him, like the blackfin tuna, but not an ounce of him went to waste. I did a much cleaner job of cleaning him than the tuna, and we got what seemed to be about four pounds of filets off of him. Unfortunately, in most of the British territories you can't fish without a license so we haven't been able to get the lines in since then, other than our passage to St. Martin which we did at night.

Spinnaker!

In October while in Annapolis, MD for the boat show we took a trip out to a Bacon's, a marine consignment shop that specializes in sails. We were looking for a spinnaker (a light-air, downwind sail), and we found a good one. Unfortunately we didn't get it rigged for a while, and since then we've not had the right conditions to fly it, largely because we've been spending most of our time working to windward against the trades. Last week we were leaving Anegada, the norteastern-most of the BVI's to head back to Tortola and had light wind at our backs. We flew the spinnaker two days in a row. The picture at right is in 4-6 knots of air, barely enough to lift the 1300 square foot monster of a sail. Even in air this light, we were moving along at 2.5-3 knots. The next day in 8-10 knots of wind, we were moving at 6-7 knots! For those of you unfamiliar with sailing, getting our 30,000 pound boat moving that fast downwind in that little wind is truly impressive. I was like a kid at Christmas, grinning ear to ear.

Moray Eel

With our friends Mike and Dina we snorked a reef off of Salt Island in the BVI's. We saw some great fish, decent coral, a ray, and this moray eel. He was hiding down in a rock crevice, mouth open and facing up. The open mouth wasn't because he was waiting for prey, apparently that is how they breathe. Armed with our new waterproof camera that was a gift from my folks, I was ready to snap his mug shot. I got pretty close to him, certainly close enough to see that he was vivid green. I did not get close enough to notice at the time that his eyes were a bright, clear blue (click the picture for a larger image). It wasn't until we got back to the boat and I uploaded the pictures from the camera that I noticed. It also wasn't until later that I learned that these are among the most dangerous creatures in the water. Apparently they sit in crevices with their tails inside, and when threatened strike out but expand their bodies so that they can't be removed from the crevice. With long backward facing teeth, whatever is bitten can't pull away and can't pull out the eel. Divers reaching into the wrong hole looking for lobster find more than they bargained for.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Antonia and Brent said...

The pictures are beautiful.. a bit different than what it's like here today .. snowy and cold. (We're jealous!!)
Heard that you also ran into some people from Lancaster..you'll have to tell us who.
Glad to see you're having fun.

Love, Tonia, Brent, Alex and Zach

January 18, 2008 at 8:55 AM  

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