Sailing and snorkeling in Norman's Pond

Sat 27 Feb 2010 23:13
We're waiting for the storm to arrive tonight, but we had a beautiful sunny day today. We took the dinghy Amazon out for a sail, in nice 10-12 knot winds, going the length of Norman's Pond, with Isabel and Rose taking turns at the helm, tacking upwind.

Along the way we met the people on board a trawler anchored in the Pond, "Sea Fox" and a neighboring boat, "Marie Antoine." Stephen Crow, the captain of the Sea Fox, has sailed around the world. He has had 8 different sailboats and now this trawler. Which reminded me of the saying I'd heard -- "Old sailors never die, they just go trawlering."

We wound up at some large limestone caves that are full of empty conch shells. You could easily imagine the native people sitting in there 2000 years ago to get out of the rain and wind, and eat their conch dinner. We poked around there a bit, and then moved a little farther along shore to a beach that follows the deep channel into the Pond. We snorkeled along the channel on the outgoing tide, not even needing to swim, sort of flying along over the bottom in clear 5-8 foot water. We came to the "underwater garden," a 200-yard stretch of corals, sea fans, sponges, brain corals, and other brightly colored fantastical marine growth. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen while diving. Small brightly colored fish swam among the corals, and we saw one larger Queen Angelfish, bright iridescent blue speckled with bright yellow -- plus a lionfish, which has stinging spines. We were hoping to find a large edible conch or three, but only saw small ones, by the hundreds. When we got back to the boat, the girls broke out the field guides to identify fish and corals and plants.

We also chatted with some people who had brought their dinghies to the cave, and they recognized our boat from seeing it at Allen's Cay. We exchanged groans about the nasty day there, and they said their wind meter read gusts at 35 knots that day, well above the forecasted wind strength of 20-25. They said they've been to Allen's often and never seen the incoming swell so bad. Apparently two different boats went aground that day at Allen's. We missed it all, as we were far off in the SW anchorage. One catamaran made it off without too much damage, but it sounds like a monohull went on the rocks and sustained major damage. So we're all the more grateful that we made it through all that day unscathed.

Now the girls are out in the cockpit doing their math and ELA test homework, spelling, and Rose has started practicing the recorder. We opened our first can of Deviled Ham. That stuff is pretty good.

We've heard about the 4 feet of snow back home and are sorry we're not there to see it, and feel very guilty about not being there to endure with everyone else. We're also sorry that Jeff has to find a way to clear our driveway. We're hoping our tractor snowblower does the trick for him.

The wind is picking up and we're battening down in preparation for rain and big wind. We'll have an early dinner in case it's too bouncy to cook later this evening. We're hoping Norman's Pond won't be nearly as bad as Allen Cay's, even if the wind is worse.

A little repair work got done today. In some dark recess of my mind the progress of this trip is measured in things
broken and fixed. The days ahead seem full of things that might break; and I constantly rehearse how they might be fixed.
The rudder got a gouge in its trailing edge at Allen's Cay, probably during our frantic attempt to move anchor early in the day -- I suspect the propellor took a bite out of it. So today I let the rudder dry in the sun, then mixed up epoxy and sealed the gouge as well as possible, to keep the plywood of the rudder from delaminating.
Also, the little 12V plug for our cellphone broke at the tip. Such a tiny thing would eventually render our
cellphone useless, as we wouldn't be able to charge it. But I have some good plastic glue on board and fixed it, I hope permanently. On board I have a large repair kit, including a half gallon of fast-cure epoxy, plywood pieces of varying sizes, rolls of fiberglass, screws, nails, bolts, a cordless drill, drill bits, etc. Plus a toolbox overflowing with tools and spare parts. I just hope that any repairs needed are few, and within the scope of my repair kit. . . .