I have a couple of favorite anchorages in the Hollandes. Both aren’t frequented by most cruising yachts – so we typically have plenty of room. There are good reasons for the lack of other yachts in the area – mostly because the anchorages are tricky and are exposed to (at least) one side. This means we spent a bit more time/energy in anchoring, and that we risk getting a little bit of the ol’ rock and roll at night – if the wind shifts.
The plusses outweigh the minuses, usually. These spots are nice – patch reef right off the back of the catamaran, spectacular views, ten thousand shades of blue in the lagoons, and a short swim to the outside barrier reef. See for yourself.
Our nights are pretty chill. We all look forward to a well-prepared meal and a good drink. Some nights we put out the LED light – which attracts a ton of fish and makes for great entertainment. Some nights we cook popcorn and watch a movie. The first night in our spot in the Hollandes, we did both.
I dropped the LED light pretty early, caught some live bait, and dropped a couple of lines in the water. Then we all ate dinner. Then we had a drink and debated which movie to watch. This was a serious issue, and it took an hour to decide. We settled on Snatch, which Chels hadn’t seen (really?).
I was making the popcorn, but got hit by a wave when I was pouring the kernels into the pan. I poured enough kernels into the pan to feed a small army. It took two of us to figure out how to get it out of the pan. After we’d plowed through a couple of bowls of popcorn, we all heard a familiar sound – a reel buzzing.
I’d like to take the time here to point out that my crew rocks. Both Damo and Chels jumped up and ran to get the line yelling “Fish!” before I’d even identified what the sound was. They were that fast. I grabbed a light and in a couple of minutes we’d pulled in and released a decent Jack. They’re edible, but we were stocked full of fish. And if we took another fish, we’d have no excuse to go hunt in the morning…
Diving here is pretty damn good. When Chels came back from her first dive, she said: “that’s the most amazing dive I’ve ever had – it’s like an aquarium.” Or something like that. It really is beautiful. And there’s a ton of diversity in the underwater life as well as the depth/bottom/coral. The water is clear, and the whole area is full of life.
We all headed out to the outer reef, and managed to find a couple of cool spots. Nurse sharks, reef sharks, rays, and every imaginable kind of reef fish. Huge ledges, deep caves, and swim-throughs. It’s amazing what you’ll see when you get shoulder-deep into one of those caves.
Since we had plenty of fish, we were keeping the fish-taking to a minimum. Only a trophy fish or an especially tasty fish would be taken. I passed on a few small snapper – but Damo got a trophy Dog Snapper, only to have it pull off. About the same time, I caught a glimpse of the largest grouper I’ve seen yet here. But that’s the last I saw of him.
After three hours of solid freediving, we headed back. In the channel, on the way back to S/V NOMAD, Damo found a nice lobster. We traded off wrestling with it underwater until Damo finally got it out. Funny thing is Damo can’t eat lobster or shellfish, so it was up to Chels and I. But Chels doesn’t really like lobster and is fundamentally opposed to Macaroni & Cheese. So I made a variation of Macaroni & Cheese with a delicious lobster topping – and that was my lunch. Spoiled rotten.
Then we napped.
That evening I was reading, and my crew decided they were headed out for another snorkel. I was reading and deciding on our next anchorage. But Damo came back and told me the whole area had come alive. Damo was diving without fins and without his speargun, so naturally a huge grouper came and hung out with him. Needless to say, Damo got his fins and speargun and went back in.
I wasn’t really on a trophy hunt, but I do enjoy the evening dives – it’s when all of us predators are out doing the same thing: hunting. So I grabbed my gear and went diving in my underwear, just off the back of the catamaran. The only thing I saw worth mentioning was a large school (?) of squid. I love calamari, so I decided to try my hand at stalking squid. I can tell you – it’s hard.
They’re smart, can change color, are quick, and present a tiny target – usually at long range. I pulled out every trick in the book, but wasn’t having much luck. Then I got a break and surprised one by sitting on the bottom in his path and waiting on him to come over me. When I pulled the trigger – the whole area went black with squid ink. I’d made a pretty good (lucky?) shot and now we had calamari.
But one squid isn’t worth frying, so I went back out on the hunt in the dwindling light. The squid had apparently learned their lesson about letting me sneak up on them. No dice. But this being a pretty decently sized specimen – we put him on the grill with our fish. I still prefer fried calamari – but it’s nice grilled as well.
Rock And Roll
After a day of complete calm, the wind picked up at night and the waves began coming in at short intervals – perpendicular to the wind. Naturally they both came in from the area where we weren’t protected in this anchorage. Nature was taxing us for our last couple of days hanging out in this little paradise.
The real complication was the patch reef behind the catamaran. That same reef we’d enjoyed so much earlier was now a cause for concern. I had my anchor alarm set, and we’d pulled a little toward the reef – but nothing worth stressing about. But, of course, I spent the majority of the night checking my anchor alarm and watching our position.
I can’t wait to put a bigger anchor on another 200’ of chain.
There was also a spectacular lightning show. These are both stunning and terrifying. It’s like meeting a beautiful nemesis. You can’t help but appreciate the beauty. But the beauty of it doesn’t keep you from realizing it could cripple you. The lightning was, thankfully, unsuccessful in hitting any of the yachts in our area.
I watched the dark of night turn to the grey of morning. Then the wind stopped completely – which is going to guarantee us a very warm day. The next morning, on the local cruiser’s net (SSB radio station, where we get weather and converse) it was noted that we might get some weather that night. That means we’re pulling our anchor up this afternoon and taking off to a more secure and protected anchorage. It also means we’re dropping two anchors off the bow – I want a solid night’s rest.