That took longer that expected as there were only a handful of moorings and the only one left was about a ¼ mile from the reef on the oceanside. Was it ever rough at that mooring. We were sitting broadside to the waves – and the boat was really rolling! First she’d roll all the way to one side, wallow for a bit, and then all the way over to the other side. It was just like in a movie with things sliding from one side of the boat and the to the other. Thankfully, not too much stuff, but enough to make a big scary racket. I was inside trying to change into my swim shirt and Coleen was sitting in the cockpit, when a much larger wave rolled into us. The boat lurched over and I heard Coleen screaming. I ran out and she was so scared she was shaking. It took a while to calm her down and get her to understand that although it was terribly uncomfortable we were actually quite safe and just needed to get our gear together and into the dinghy as quickly as possible before we were all sea sick. Meanwhile, DJ raised a double reefed main and the boat turned to take the waves more on the bow which settled things down quite a bit.
It was no easy task getting the outboard mounted on the dinghy, but finally we got everything loaded and sped off to the reef. Poor Coleen was still crying as she kept looking back at the Glass Slipper, watching her roll around in the waves. (I’ll admit it didn’t actually look too good….)
It was a quick ride to the reef and the dinghy handled the waves much better, just rising up over the top and down the other side. There is a huge lighthouse towering over Alligator Reef and we maneuvered the dinghy in fairly close, put on our gear and jumped in. We were looking for the remains of a sunken ship, but never managed to find it. There were however, myriad tropical fish of every kind you can imagine, plus beautiful sea fans, coral and sponges. The water near the lighthouse was only about 4 feet and the waves were a bit rough. Even the little fish at the bottom would get pushed along when a wave came by. It was pretty cool to see the whole lot of them swept up and settled back down after the wave. Of course all the wave action meant I was getting a lot of seawater in my snorkel too, and I swallowed more than my fair share of it.
Our normal way to snorkel is to bring the inflatable dinghy and tow it behind us as we swim along. It makes for a good place to stop and take a break, and is also handy for getting out of the water quickly should we see a shark. I suppose though it could look to an outsider as though we are in distress, and are trying to swim our dinghy to shore or something. We actually had a Coast Guard boat stop and ask what we were doing.
We enjoyed about 2 hours of snorkeling before heading back to the bobbing Glass Slipper, and getting out of there as fast as possible. As soon as we were underway, everything settled down to a comfortable motion. We had an amazing 4 hour sail from Alligator Reef to Rodriguez Key all on the same tack, scooting along at 4 knots in an under 10 knot breeze. We did have one minor mishap when we got hit broadside by wave that rolled us enough to send the ice chest flying. The cockpit was awash in ice and ice water and alas none could be saved -- Bad news on a summer afternoon.
I spent a bit of time exploring the radar that I installed last week. I looked through the manual and tried to sort it out, but will admit that I need training beyond what the user manual offers. I managed to pick out boats and land mass on the screen, but the other features are still a mystery. Need to see if I can find a Radar for Dummies book.
I’m also struggling with reading a paper chart for navigation. I just don’t judge the distance and size of things that well. I had myself in quite a pickle trying to figure out the markers around the shoal off Rodriguez Key. I guess it will just take lots of practice.
I was so exhausted that by the time I dropped the hook at 7 p.m. and got the anchor set, I could barely get inside to make a sundowner. I managed to make a gin and tonic, set my little beach chair on the deck, and let the crew know that I was invisible for the next 20 minutes. Meanwhile, DJ and Coleen dove the anchor to make sure it was properly set and then Coleen enjoyed a few minutes of diving lessons. She is trying to become as adept at diving as DJ – who can dive down really far for a long time. After that, Coleen pulled out her swing (the bosun chair attached to a halyard) and entertained us with her acrobatic feats.
My G&T revived me just enough to make supper – which was a simple affair, noodles, canned chicken w/cream of mushroom soup, and garlic toast. After supper, I had a shower, took a last walk around the deck to make sure all was in order, and dropped into my bunk like a dead weight. It was a wonderful day spent doing the things I love, with people I love, but I might have had too much fun. I would be much better at this if I were in my twenties.