Tuesday, July 05, 2011

VirginSSUDs2011 Trip Report - Day 7

Going to the Dogs

A traditionally-cultured person might say that three guys on a sailboat marauding wandering around the BVI for days on end uncontrolled and unrestrained by the ameliorating effects of any female presence would be a prime example of the phrase “going to the dogs” so we decided make it official. There’s a small grouping of uninhabited islands between Tortola and Virgin Gorda called generally “the dogs.” Ya got Great Dog, West Dog, George Dog (possibly named by George Foreman, I’ll hafta research that), West Seal Dog, East Seal Dog, and (You explain it cuz I can’t.) Cockroach Island.

So, with the coming of another perfect, soft morning, we slipped the bonds of our mooring, waved adieu to Marina Cay, and went to the dogs.

As you know by now from following this narrative, anchoring is restricted in the BVI to reduce damage to reefs. There are a few day-mooring balls on a couple of the dogs and a couple of diveboat balls, and that’s it. We saw an empty ball at Great Dog with just a couple of other boats there so we grabbed it. This little bay is lovely and I wish it were suitable for an overnight stay. Alas, it is not; day use only. Therefore, we put our best effort into using it fully.

As always, Jon prepped his camera while Ben and I simply put on our snorkelling personae and became bold, skindiving men. Aaaaarrr! We were getting good at this. As you may have noticed, we did not use SCUBA yesterday or today. I was tired from all the dives I did, and even the uninjured Ben and Jon decided that they wouldn’t mind a break from the hectic pace of two dives every morning. Therefore, days 6 and 7 were nondiving days, with a healthy substitute dose of shore activities and lots of snorkeling.

The three of us eased from Kokomo’s dual sugarscoops into the amniotic-seeming welcome of the Caribbean Sea.

Snorkelling the Indians was lovely, a magnificent introduction to what’s below the surface of the Caribbean for my newly-certified friends. The bay at Fallen Jerusalem was a delightful surprise package of abundant life, rich with photo opportunities for Jon and simple viewing pleasure for Ben and me. But Great Dog… Ah, Great Dog proved the saying, “Don’t mess with the big dog!”

The three of us scattered over the extensive reef system in pursuit of our own individual visions. Large schools of tangs, sergeant-majors, and yellowtails hovered off the deep side of the reef. Fat, silvery balls of baitfish shimmered in the shallows. Ever nook and cranny teemed with wrasses and basslets, bright and gaudy as anything from a child’s coloring book. Even better, a lovely special surprise awaited, which heightened things to a new level. As we met up at some point during our explorations, Jon said that he’d seen a couple of squid “over there” and they were just hanging out. Cool! I headed to squidtown.

Sure enough, when I got to the area, there were eight squid hovering in a group in midwater. They backed away a bit when I first arrived but then relaxed as I stayed quiet. We faced each other from a distance of just five feet or so. They hung there, cycling through several color changes, while I just floated and breathed, admiring their beauty, supported by my ancestral home, Panthalassa. Wanna feel connected? Snorkel Great Dog and commune with the squid. I believe there are secrets they know, which they’d love to share, if only we’d listen carefully enough.

I am, sadly, too civilized and too cynical. I left without hearing the Secrets of the Squid. It felt like a profound loss. Then again, what do some dumbass, less-than-a-foot-long cephalopods know?

Meanwhile, in the other direction, Jon was communing with a juvenile Great barracuda. He got some wonderful photos, both of the ‘cuda and of the other denizens of the Great Dog reef system, including a couple of shots of the squid. They may have been doing higher math or discussing philosophy but I suspect they were really just hanging around, shooting the shit, and looking for cute female squid.

After a long morning enjoying the pleasures of snorkelling Great Dog, we rinsed ourselves with the freshwater shower and settled in for some lunch in that delightful spot.

Having had our two-day break from diving, we were ready to do some more SCUBA on the following day, so we got on the radio and arranged another rendezvous dive with BWD for the next morning. Then we set sail on a delightful broad reach. We were headed back to Cooper Island with no expectation of getting ice but looking forward to being picked up the next morning by our little Dutch divemaster. On the morrow we’d be returning to the Rhone for some daytime exploration of the areas we’d seen on our night dive.

A very pleasant sail later, we dropped all our canvas and motored to a mooring ball at now-familiar Cooper Island. And at the end of the seventh day, we rested.

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