Yesterday, we slept in a little, puttered around the boat and finally sailed off the anchor around 9:30 a.m. The winds and seas were fair and we made 4 knots on our way to the White Bank snorkel site. I threw together a batch of homemade biscuits and fried some eggs for breakfast while underway, then decided that since I already had the mixer out, to make a batch of homemade bread. (Yes, I do carry my trusty, old Kitchen Aid stand mixer as my only electrical kitchen appliance. I’ve used this thing nearly every day for almost 20 years…)
Our course put us very near a shoal area and from a far distance we couldn’t see that it was marked. As we got closer it was somewhat easy to pick it out from the color of the water (the water gets lighter and then brown). I still need a lot of practice determining the depths from water color, but I’m getting a little better. As we got closer to the shoal we could see that it was well marked, so that was reassuring. I get more than a bit nervous navigating my boat/home around coral reefs!
We picked up a mooring at White Bank Coral Garden just before noon, after sailing the last ½ mile through 5 and 6 foot depths. My heart was racing by the time we picked up the mooring which was in 12 feet.
The reef top at White Bank Coral Garden is within a few feet of the surface in many spots and we were moored a 100 yards away. This was the most beautiful snorkeling spot so far. Fish were abundant… butterfly fish, parrotfish, damselfish, lots of sea fans, coral, sponges, really more things than you can possible imagine. Everywhere I looked life was just overflowing. Large schools of fish hiding under coral banks, little tiny fish like you’d find in an aquarium were darting here and there, and even an occasional barracuda lurking around looking quite serious and mean. We were moored so close the site, that we left the dinghy behind and swam over – which was infinitely more fun than dragging it along. The water temperature is about 85 degrees – so no wet suit is needed. I do wear a long sleeved, turtle neck swim shirt to keep from getting too much sun. We were in the water for about and hour and half before I decided I’d better swim back to the boat while I still had the energy.
DJ and Coleen stayed in the water while I darted inside the cabin to quickly get my bread dough into pans for the last rise. At the captains prerogative I also snagged the last leftover biscuit for my lunch. I heard Coleen squealing, popped outside to hear her yelling that they had just seen a small nurse shark under the boat.
We dropped the mooring around 2:30 and sailed back to anchor at Rodriquez Key. It was a nice, downwind sail, but rather slow as there was little wind. We finally made anchor around 5 p.m. I put on my snorkel gear again, and dove down to see that the anchor was properly set. It was my first time to do it. I’m not a great diver, but am getting a little better. It was nice to see that the anchor was very well set.
We played around in the water a bit longer before getting down the serious business of choosing what to have for a sundowner. I settled on mixing up a batch of hurricanes – but ended up only having one as it was more than sufficient. I got dinner ready to grill – pork ribs rubbed with a mixture of paprika, cumin, celery seed and pepper, corn on the cob (it was on sale 10 for $2 so we have a lot of it), yellow squash, and sweet potatoes. I gave the whole platter to DJ since he’s in charge of the grill – and then headed off to shower, as my chores were finished for the day!
It was a quiet evening, and although we were anchored ¼ mile from shore, we still had a few mosquitoes, so had to put in the screens.
It's time for my watch, so I