Pirates and Indians and Cap’n Ben. Oh my!
After our first night’s sleep onboard, I woke to the smell of frying bacon. Ahhhhhh. I don’t think any of us slept well but on the boat on the water you fall into that natural rhythm and Jon was up and at the stove. Following a lovely breakfast, we decided to motor around the corner to the “treasure caves” which were located in the next bay of Norman Is.
Gold coins have been found there over the years, as recently as the 1950s. Historically, pirates used the Virgin Islands as a hangout and scouting area to prey on passing ships and many a rich cargo was kept, at least temporarily, on these islands. It’s widely reported that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Treasure Island based on the caves and anchorages of Norman Is.
We untied from our mooring ball and motored around the headland to see if we could luck into a spot with the big boat because there are only a few big-boat mooring balls at the caves and they get occupied early. If we couldn’t get an open one, we’d hafta return to our mooring at the bight and dinghy back to the caves because there’s a long dinghy tie-up area where there’s always room. Happily, there was a big-boat ball open and we grabbed it.
Time now to introduce my boys to the joys of Caribbean snorkeling. Ben and I started pulling on our skinsuits. If I were a woman I would detest wearing stockings. Pulling on that damned skinsuit is a chore but I finally got it done. Jon elected to go with a shorty wetsuit and had decided to be an underwater photographer for this trip so he had to prep his camera and housing as well. I was the first to be fully suited and ready so I grabbed my mask, fins, and snorkel, and I settled down on the bottom step of our port transom.
I spit in my mask like a good Neanderthal, cuz only weenies use that fake spit from a bottle, strapped on my gigantic fins, adjusted my mask, put my snorkel in my mouth, and eased into that lovely 85-degree water. A quick scan showed me that the very first fish my pals would see on this trip would be the Great barracuda who was
Once we tired of the ‘cuda, we headed on over to the caves, doing a little fish spotting on the way and seeing the usual proliferation of Yellowtail snappers, Sergeant majors, Blue tangs (Don’t ever ask Chloe about Blue tangs!), several species of parrotfish, and all those cute little wrasses and basslets. There are several caves and all can be entered with snorkel gear. We explored them in turn, going all the way through one, and entering the total dark of another where the smell of bat guano was distinct. Finally, we exhausted the cave experience and returned to Kokomo.
Our next intended stop was a rocky coral-encrusted system just off Norman Island called The Indians. Like most of the good snorkelling/diving spots in the Virgins, it is controlled and administered by their national park service. Anchoring is prohibited, to prevent coral damage, and you must use one of their mooring balls. During busy times, there can be a wait before someone leaves and makes a ball available. We headed directly for The Indians, intending to have lunch en route and/or there. As it turned out, we did hafta circle for a while before a ball became available but when it did we grabbed it and settled in to have some lunch before going for a snorkel on this densely-populated reef.
Naturally, you’re not supposed to feed the fish but we did anyway. Feel free to lambast me. I can take it. The reef system of The Indians is very alive and features a wide variety of fish species. We snorkelled around, occasionally releasing some chopped up meat to those brave souls who swam right up to us. The sun was high and bright, the visibility was good, and the reef displayed its magnificence to us. All the usual fish species were present and most were willing to come right up close for some snackage. Jon snapped and snapped, saving memories for the future. We essentially circled The Indians and returned to Kokomo, tired but delighted.
Some rest and hydration refreshed our energy to the point that we were ready to go for a little sail. Hoisting all our canvas, we went hard on the wind on a starboard tack. Ben took the helm and kept Kokomo in the groove. After a while, I decided this crew was capable of tacking so I gave a short explanation of how it works and then Ben called the tack.
We came around smooth and easy and settled nicely onto a port tack, pretty as you please. Nicely done, boys!
After sailing around a while just for fun, we decided to head back to the bight cuz that’s where Blue Water Divers expected to find us when they arrived the next morning for our first Virgin dive. (Is that redundant? I don’t think so.) Dropped sails like pros and motored to a mooring ball. Hooked up and we were settled for the night. Lovely dinner, beautiful sunset, and some exquisite memories.