Monday, Sept 30th (looked it up)
A good day in Bahia de Almodovar . . . mostly
The weather has been so mild I thought I’d try this somewhat exposed bay a few miles east around Culebra island. The water is clearer. Much better than my anchorage in – the bay doesn’t have a name anyone can find, but a collection of government buildings is called San Ildefonso, so that’s what I’ll call the bay, or cove. Can there be a bay inside a bay? The large bay, almost the size of the whole island, is called Ensenada Honda, which basically means large bay.
There were several moorings available in this bay, Almodovar, so i didn’t have to use my anchor, which needs a good cleaning. That is a good thing.
Rick and Sue are here on there Morgan sloop ‘Orion’. And, another Morgan, belonging to Chris and Aleta – same age group… Chris is French, I believe. He speaks with an accent that isn’t Spanish… I’m so cosmopolitan… can’t even tell an accent. He also was a commercial diver, among other things. Quite an experienced sailor as well.
Didn’t do much Monday. Started diving on Tuesday; snorkel and hookah (compressor). During my dives occasionally I would feel pools of cool water – quite refreshing. I suppose because it is exposed to the Caribbean. Directly south, between Vieques Island (about 10 miles southwest) and St. Croix (about 40 miles southeast) there is nothing until South America (about 500 miles).
While I was diving here I saw a Ray fish, about 2 feet across, and several Jacks and a couple of Puffer fish, and conch shells but nothing else – some ugly Sea Slugs. The last couple days. I’ve seen manatees, a turtle and a small shark (about 3 foot) chasing a school of sardine (I guess).
I worked on cleaning the boat some. But, when the growth comes off I have to swim away or one type of sponge can sting when it gets on you. So, I started wearing my light Lycra full-body swim suit. Better, but still had to rinse off well. Also, after several dives and hours I still haven’t got it completely clean.
But, there were a couple little problems. Yes, here we go, again. I have an underwater camera (or had), the second one, that I hadn’t yet tried. So, I brought it on the dive. I had it attached to a little bracket and belt around my neck. As I was in the water trying to figure out how to operate it – on hindsight I might better have done that before I got in the water – the camera popped off the bracket. Not able to re-attache it after trying to take some pictures and a video I put in the pocket of my swim trunks. I know.
I realize now it would have been wise to swim up to the boat and at least put it in the dingy. But, as I swam I would keep checking it hadn’t dropped out. check. Yup. check. All well and good. So, after exhausting myself once again I put my gear in the dingy and climbed up the swim ladder then climbed into the dingy. I then checked my pocket – nope, no camera. Somehow I wasn’t all that surprised. I looked about on the chance it might have just fallen in the boat. Nope. Not here. Yup. Down there – somewhere.
On the chance that it floats I untied the dingy and began a circling search pattern from where I was swimming. I suppose that may have looked a bit odd to the others moored in this bay, but I’m getting rather accustomed to that. And, that’s probably good preparation for further such occurrences as I age.
No success, of course. Tomorrow I shall have to start a diving search. I do keep busy with these events.
After a restless night I woke at about 5 am. At 6:30 or so i took the kayak out past the reef – swells and wind waves were slight. Back at the boat trying to get out of the slippery kayak I tumbled in the water – but I had bathing suit and diving gear so I just stayed in – I don’t think anyone even noticed, but just in case I sort of acted like I had just intended to go ahead and take a dive, even convinced myself – and went searching for the camera. I actually felt some confidence I’d find it. The bottom is very plain – little vegetation and no rocks or other distractions. But, after over an hour – nothing. Lost. Again. Sigh.
Another diving search and dingy search came up empty – there’s more money thrown into the sea…
Second ‘problem’. Lesson: Do not put air compressor that gives you the air you breathe by the gas generator that supplies it with electricity. Why? Carbon monoxide poisoning, that’s why. duh. Sometimes it isn’t that I don’t know what I’m doing – I just don’t seem to be giving it much thought. Really need to work on that.
Tuesday evening Sue invited me to dinner with them and Chris/Aleta. It was very nice. She makes a wonderful potato salad. As good as mother used to make. Maybe better. We also had some good conversation. PS. I forgot to mention the Lion Fish Rick shot (spear) and cleaned…. carefully (their spines are very poisonous). Sue cooked it perfectly. It was excellent – like Red Snapper.
Wednesday; Rick/Sue and Chris/Aleta left in the morning. No one in the bay but me. Also, I see no activity in any of the million dollar mansions along the hillsides. Just vacation homes I guess…. the 1% are doing well.
Sometime in the morning – about 9 or 10 – I noticed a conch ‘gatherer’ at the west edge of the bay. He is wading chest deep towing a plastic kayak with a 10 gallon bucket in it. His head is down in the water – he’s using a mask and a snorkel to breath. He will suddenly disappear then come up with one every few minutes. At several hundred yards I can’t make out what, but it appears orangish and about 4 to 6 inches across, so probably conch. I’ve seen them around the bottom. He worked all the way around the bay, about a half mile, then around a small island and down the channel entrance east of the bay. He worked at least 8 hours before I saw him paddling back toward Ensenada Honda.
Thursday; Today is when the manatees showed up. Quite near the boat. I was tempted to swim around them, but it looked like it was either a mother and calf or bull and cow. Either way they could get a bit testy. And, one is very big..
A second ‘conch gatherer’ showed up. This was the guy who heard about the other guy – the one with the initiative and equipment. So this one is older, gray scraggy beard and apparently wearing his street clothes. No snorkel, no bucket, no kayak. Just him walking around for hours putting Conks in a plastic bag. Still, he may have made enough for some wine to go with his conch fritters.
I plan to go back to Ildefonso tomorrow morning (Friday). Rick says this bay fills up with Puerto Rican power boaters on the weekends.