Laundry. I desperately need to do laundry. The good news is that board shorts never really get too dirty to wear in the water. It’s the time out of the water that gets you. I’ve discovered the art of using towels as clothes, though I can’t say that my towels are in much better shape. This, though, will hardly make me leave my favorite dive spot.
Back to The Swimming Pool
With Sandra onboard and getting her sea-legs we headed back to The Swimming Pool for a break in the weather. Kenny (S/V Makai) was on his way up there, and we’ve become great friends so I was getting excited to see him. I was being lazy, and ended up leaving the kayak in the water and towing it. About halfway to The Swimming Pool, in the middle of a 6-8 foot beam swell, I noticed the kayak was no longer behind us. A quick look around and (though it is bright red) – I realized that we would have trouble finding it.
We made a huge circle, taking into account wind and waves. No luck. Then we were back where we’d started a couple of hours before. Still no kayak. This was beginning to worry me. Kayaks aren’t cheap. At some point Sandra caught sight of the kayak in the binoculars. A bit of maneuvering and we got along side of it and then got it back onboard. A piece of the kayak had broken – it was nobody’s fault (except mine for being lazy and not bringing it up onboard). The buck always stops with the captain. Now we just needed to get back to The Swimming Pool.
We pulled into The Swimming Pool and anchored in a spot I that I hoped would have good internet reception. Of course it didn’t. The updates here, the various boat-parts-searches, the “important” emails, communication with family and friends – would all have to wait. We were, afterall, in an island paradise. Internet connection, at least for short periods of time, is a sacrifice I’ll happily make.
With the anchor down I immediately got my diving gear out. I was here to chase fish. As we headed toward the outer reef it looked rough. Rougher than they were predicting in the weather forecast, surely. The swells were 6-8 feet and breaking. That’s rough weather in a dinghy. We did make it across the reef, though, and soon I was back in one of my favorite dive spots. After all of that effort to get back here I was hoping the Universe would cut me some slack and give me an easy fish or two. That was not to be. Hell, it took us 15 minutes to set the anchor in the sloppy seas.
Sandra had come out with me, but after a bit of diving through the swells she decided to wait it out in the dinghy. I couldn’t blame her, it wasn’t comfortable diving. Even for me, having done this more than a couple of times – it wasn’t an easy dive day.
After a half-hour of being churned and pounded and rolled in the giant washing machine that was my favorite dive spot this day – the giant Dog Snapper, Cubera Snapper, or Black Grouper had evaded me. Not even a sighting.
So I kicked and kicked and kicked and eventually found myself in a slightly different area. And there I saw the only two shootable fish that day. One large and one passable Dog Snapper. I was out of breath and definitely not relaxed – but I made the dive, grabbed ahold of the bottom, and waited. And waited. And waited.
The smaller of the two fish came and investigated. The bigger one was keeping it’s distance. As I waited on the larger fish, I was having a fierce internal debate. Shooting the small fish would guarantee me ceviche, but since the dinghy was a long ways away – it would be nothing short of a miracle to be able to land his bigger brother also. But a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. But I really wanted his big brother. Really.
After a few seconds of the smaller fish swimming around me I took the shot. The spear passed through the gill-plate, so he was absolutely stuck. Before I even made it to the surface, I had the spear back in the gun and was reloading the rubber. On the surface I took a quick breath and then went back down, the smaller of the two snapper still swimming around on the end of my spear – making it very difficult to a) aim and b) control the speargun. The good news was that the large Dog Snapper was still within eyesight when I hit the bottom.
With the smaller snapper still swimming around on the end of my spear I waited on the bottom. Much to my surprise, his big brother decided to investigate. He came closer and closer. But I needed him close to the end of my spear before I could take a shot – I had no way of aiming and the speared snapper was continuing to jerk me around. About the time I had given up hope, the larger snapper came within range and I pulled the trigger. Stoned. He quivered and then, with two Dog Snapper on the spear I returned to the surface.
The kick back to the dinghy in the rolling surf with two large and bleeding fish was a long one. Then I needed to retrieve the anchor. Then get the engine started and the dinghy away from the breaking waves. With all of that done, I could catch my breath. I earned those fish.
On the way back to the boat, Runner waved me over and I met the fine folks on Paradise. Both were interested in fish, and I was planning on diving every day I could – so I was happy to give some away. I cleaned the fish and an hour later delivered it, ziplocked.
That evening, after an awesome fish dinner, Runner and Paradise came by and gave me some fresh-baked bread. Once again – among friends and with a fridge full of fresh fish, all was right in the world.