Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Boobie Bonanza

Euphoria. Yesterday’s joie de vivre carried over to this morning as we woke well before daylight and luxuriated in our lethargy. We had nothing to do and all day to do it! The days here in the Grenadines seemed to expand as the weather forecast improved. It’s nice when you don’t have to count days out due to excessive wind or rain!

I sat in the cockpit watching the day open up and blossom, enjoying each tableau as it played out around us and just revelling in the fact that this is NOT A VACATION! We don’t have to go home! I couldn’t help but pity the charter boat families that came to our little Bay… I watched their antics… It was like watching a movie in fast-forward…


A boat would come… drop anchor… toys would pop out and people would immediately proceed to having fun. They fished… they snorkelled… they dinghied to the beach… they windsurfed and played on SUPs… Moms sunned themselves on the deck… Then the toys would all be sucked back up onto the boat… the tell-tale sound of an anchor chain falling back into the chain locker… and off they went. Gotta pack it all in, no time to waste.

But we aren’t those people anymore. I spent the entire morning watching all of this, safe in the knowledge that I had all day to watch the Boobies reel and dive… Maybe some snorkelling when the sun was high.

The Boobies are really working this cove! I watched as they would splash into the water over near the rocks… They go deep, disappear for seconds… Then they resurface with a ploop, but their heads stay down. Are they looking for fish? Are they eating? The head reappears and after a few seconds, the bird starts an awkward takeoff sequence. Breasts and wings rise… feet must be paddling furiously to raise the body… Then head stretches forward and the body aligns… Wings flap and splash… One, two, three heavy strokes and he’s airborne.

He flaps a few more times skimming the surface, gives a little shake to shed the water…then catches wind and lifts high… then does a banking turn to fly over my head. Making a looping circle, the bird slows over the shallows near the beach… searching… then finding and does a dead drop into the water with a splashing disappearance once again… They all do this dance, over and over again. Sometimes two in tandem. I watched for long minutes… fascinated… learning the process. I’m becoming familiar, making this place mine.

Wildlife has been less abundant than we expected. Back home we had dolphin and pelicans and gulls… It would be more unusual NOT to see them… But I don’t remember ever seeing Boobies back home. Getting to know these funny birds is a special treat.

But into every day, a little work must come. My idea of inflating the kayak and getting a little closer to the Boobies… maybe snorkel, walk that sweet little beach… MY idea of what we’re doing today was trumped by Bruce’s idea that if the zincs didn’t get changed… our engine would crumble into a corroded heap… Well OK then, do your work. My job in this is being crew… I assist in getting him ready then watch and make sure he keeps moving and that the hookah doesn’t quit.

I sat in the cockpit and read my book until he finished his dive and came up for lunch and a nap. The morning has passed. The sun was high… then the rain threatened my plan! But it was brief and we just got a brush of the edge. Those people in Union Island - which disappeared in the dark curtain - were getting the deluge today.

We pumped up our little two-man kayak and took off in the direction of the Boobies! They work the waters furiously in the morning, then take a break for an afternoon siesta! I found them all huddled atop this odd-shaped rock… Of course. They watched with veiled interest as we crept closer… trying not to make any erratic movements. I snapped a dozen photos, hoping to actually get them taking flight… But I didn’t have the heart to scare them to it, so we turned and paddled off toward the beach.

The kayak is light enough to lift onto the sand so anchoring isn’t required. Hoping that a gust or unusually large wave doesn’t carry our inflatable closer to this stand of cactus… willing to take the risk in conditions as benign as these… we left the boat and explored the beach.
Whole bunch of cactus!

We're thinking this is a Manchineel 
You Sure that's a Manchineel? 

Then we explored the underwater wonders just below the surface. Those baitfish that attracted the Boobies were huddling in long ribbons at the edge where rock meets sand. maybe they blend into the rocks and feel more exposed when they swim over the white sand… who knows. But they were safe now as the Boobies were all napping, haven eaten their fill earlier in the day. All is quiet on the water now as we finned our way to the point.

Just beyond the baitfish ribbons, we found some larger fish. Something swam off in the murk that might have been the size of a small tuna and shaped like it, but more silvery. I didn’t see them well enough to identify them, but something edible I’m thinking.

There weren’t as many sea fans, and less coral, but more different types of fish than we’ve seen recently. LOTS of tiny colorful fish, an aquarium lover’s dream! Hovering, I watched their little lives… They guard their territory and dart after interlopers… The interlopers travel far and wide, hoping to do what? Some of the fish were shy, others seemed as curious about me as I was about them!

I love snorkelling! The weightlessness… the feel of the velvety water… The temperature of the water in the Grenadines has been perfect. We aren’t limited by cold… Visibility is good and the current isn’t bad in the places we’ve snorkelled… It’s been such fun!

Approaching the point
Coming around the outer point

The sun was getting lower, so we decided to go back to paddling… We went out around the point and took a peek into the next cove over. It is supposedly privately owned by a man who imported tons of white sand, then roped off the anchorage so it’s no longer accessible to boats. The guide book suggests dinghying over to the beach and enjoying that sand… but that’s just mean. It didn’t look any better than our little beach on the other side… Just looked lonely to me.

That Man's empty beach
Returning riding the swells

Back on the boat, we luxuriated in the having of a water maker. I used to be reluctant to snorkel because we didn’t have water for rinsing of our equipment or ourselves… Now we take everything onto the foredeck and give our stuff a thorough rinsing, then lay it all out to dry in the afternoon sun.

Our day was perfect. Now it’s winding to a close… The fishermen return home. The ferry makes its final run. We made early Sundowners and relaxed to watch the Boobies go back to work again.

I watched them swoop and soar, wheel and dive, skim and plop… until it grew dark and they returned once again to that rock.

The stars came out and the frog-song crescendo grew from the trees, spilling across the water. The boat milled around, doing half circles, the only sign of the silent battle between current and breeze. If every day has a theme… today it was the Boobies. It was Boobie-licious! Boobie-wonderful! A veritable… Boobie-Bonanza!

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