There was wind on the nose as we headed to The Swimming Pool. This is par for the course onboard NOMAD – wherever we go, the wind decides to work against us. So the going was slow. We averaged about 4 knots, and when we arrived we put Ana back in the dinghy to help me maneuver around the shallow spots and patch reef at the entrance to The Swimming Pool.
As we entered, we found The Swimming Pool full. And since I like my space, we pulled far into a cut and dropped the anchor in a spot that most wouldn’t.
Having confidence in your charts and your ground tackle makes these maneuvers possible. It was tricky and I wasn’t beyond setting an anchor alarm.
Sundowner, who we’d come to know online but not yet in person, was in the anchorage with their friends. Of the other boats anchored around, I knew a few. I made the rounds and said my hello’s. It’s nice to feel welcome, to feel a sense of returning to a familiar place with familiar people. Especially when the people are as generous and giving as the cruising community.
Naturally, Sundowner was leaving the following day so we wouldn’t get to spend too much time with them this time ‘round. So we did what we always do – drink and dive and socialize and laugh and eat.
The surf was pounding the barrier reef, so “getting outside” wasn’t a reality. We stayed inside and poked around some interior caves. There’s a swim-through that provides some excitement and can be quite challenging when there is current. To get through the swim through you have to be able to swim underwater for at least 45 seconds, sometimes upwards of a minute. Not a huge deal, but enough.
In the caves I saw a massive Goliath Grouper – which are fair game here – but he evaded me and never showed himself again. He was over 100 pounds and likely would have pushed 200 pounds. Not a huge specimen for the Goliath’s – but I consider landing a fish like that an achievement. And I would have shot him as we had enough boats anchored around us that none of the fish would have been wasted. But, alas, he was savvy. Then Ana and I dove some patch-reef inside the barrier reef, but inside a channel.
No other fish showed, and with three crew (including a chef) that wanted fresh fish – I was forced into Plan B. Plan B: shoot Ocean Triggerfish. I can almost always find them, they are tasty and have a great texture. The only issue with the Ocean Triggerfish is what a PITA they are to clean. Their skin resembles armor and dulls any knife, without fail.
Triggerfish in the dinghy – we retired for the evening and put on our drinking pants and our fish lights.
Shortly we were watching clouds of baitfish around the boat and a bit later the Barracuda, Tarpon, and turtles came in. A wonderful substitute for TV. The fish light gives us the excitement of seeing both the large and small ocean-creatures of the night. All night we talked and joked and drank. The night regularly pierced with cries of “Look at that!” and “There’s something else huge!” or “Come look, quick!” .
The fish-TV programming was topnotch onboard NOMAD.