December 26, 2009.
Low tide was first thing this morning so that meant that it was garbage burning day. I took our burnables and headed in to a nearby beach. I dug a small pit just above the low water mark and lined it with gathered sticks and topped it with our garbage. Once the pile was really burning, I walked the beach gathering all the bits and pieces of flotsam that had washed ashore and added it to the flames.
The reason I burn everything at low tide is that once the fire has completely reduced everything to ash, the tide comes in and by tomorrow there will be no evidence of me ever having been there. Except now the beach is a bit cleaner than it was before I got there.
By the time I got back to the boat Christy was standing in the cockpit with her bathing suit on, ready to head out for some hunting. Since we had an incoming tide so we headed out through the nearest cut, got in the water and just drifted in with the tide.
The water here is so clear that depth perception can be a bit of a problem. We were drifting over a section of sea fans and assorted other plant life when all of a sudden the bottom just dropped away. We were in 20 feet of water and instantly the bottom dropped away to what appeared to be 30 or 40 feet below us. Just past the lip of the drop off was a large school of big fish.
With the current pushing us along there was no time for debate so I cocked my spear and dove down. As I approached the fish they only lackadaisically started to swim away. I realized that I had a pretty good chance at getting close enough to one of these 3 foot long fish to nail one. Then the second realization kicked in…..I had been swimming downward for a while. I was only a dozen feet behind the fish when I realized that I was still 30 or 40 feet from the bottom. When I looked up I found myself 40 feet or more below the surface. Ut oh.
I gave up my quest and swam hard for the surface. It turned out that we’d crossed a blue hole and the water was a lot deeper than it appeared to be.
Right after that we were blasting along when I spotted an antenna, a lobster. I turned around and swam against the current as hard as I could just to stay above the lobster’s hiding place. Christy climbed into the dinghy as she was swept away. Once aboard she started the engine and headed back upstream of me and dropped the dinghies anchor. The dinghy settled back on its hook right over the lobster’s lair.
It was about then that I realized just how deep that section of water was. Christ, it was becoming a recurring theme for the day. Our anchor rode on the dink is 50 feet long and while it wasn’t straight up and down, there wasn’t that much angle to it. The hook was caught nicely in some rocks in about 35 feet of water. Crap. The current was pretty strong, the water was way deeper than I realized and the lobster was just sitting there under a ledge. Shit.
I made a few attempts but the current was so strong I only succeeded in scaring the lobster deeper under his ledge. Crap. Finally, after holding onto the dink to rest a bit, I used the anchor rode to pull myself along as I swam down. This left me a little up current from the ledge. When I let go of the rode I was swept towards the ledge and I looked under and was surprised to see 2 lobsters staring back at me. I quickly shot the larger of the 2 and ripped him from his hiding place. I surfaced just in time to grab the aft end of the dinghy as I was pushed along by the current.
I’d had enough. We had another 4 pounder and while the second lobster was a decent one, I was at the edge of my comfort zone. The combination of the depth, coupled with the current was just too much. Christy pulled the hook and we continued our drift. We gathered a few conch that we ended up giving away to friends. By the time we climbed back into the dinghy we estimated that we drifted close to 2 miles.
After going back to the boat for lunch we headed over to the Thunderball Grotto (from the James Bond flick) with our friend Nancy for a little more snorkeling. It’s been quite a day.