Caribbean Day 18: Endless Summer

I’m going to break with my theme of giving each post a title of 1 word to sum up the day, instead with a phrase.

The power outage in the morning means no eggs or bacon after the power goes out at 8am. I woke up at 7:50 and got out of bed quickly rushing down to the dining room to put my order in with Joost. Just in time, my eggs show up, and my toast is done RIGHT as the power goes off. Good timing!

My dive doesn’t start until 1pm, so I have a lot of time to burn. I’m tired from the previous day, and I’ve fallen behind with my journal here in Saba with all the excitement. The relaxed morning is welcome and a chance to kind of survey my trip while I sit at the little table outside my room looking out over the sea. A gecko decided to join me sitting on the railing at arm’s reach. He’s surprisingly bold and curious, but I think also looking for a little bit of sun. The clouds that had thwarted me on Mt. Scenery cruise overhead, they’re fun to watch now even if I hated them on Saturday. I read a chapter in my physics book, I’m slowly finding time to progress with it, though it’s not the normal light vacation reading.

Paddy is again my taxi driver. There is an older couple, maybe in their 70s in the van from San Francisco also going today. He’d just done a refresher after 8 years, and his wife a snorkeling lesson. Paddy makes a brief stop in The Bottom to give his daughter in law lunch. We arrive at the dive shop and Becka greets us. I had met her at the Windwardside location and she was one of the 5 instructors I had drinks with after my last dive. It turns out she would be my guide for this one. To my surprise Joost was also here, taking advantage of living somewhere with good diving along with 2 of the instructors diving for fun. After some waiting the boat came in from its morning dives and we all loaded in. Teresa and Ron, a couple staying at my guest house were already on board. They’re doing a nitrox course which from what I understand is more dangerous and complicated, and cannot dive as deep, but allows for much longer dive times. Also on board was a Belgian guy who works at the shop I briefly met, a tiny Swedish girl living on Guadeloupe, and Kelly today’s captain.

This time we were off to Torrens Point, another shallow dive site. The name Torrens means towers in Dutch and describes the geological formation. Becka goes over the briefing, quickly refreshing on hand signals and procedure, finally describing the dive site. It’s going to be mostly shallow with the moorning in 25ft of water, but it slopes down a little and we will see 35ft max depth. The bottom is mostly sandy with large boulders and old lava flows now covered in soft coral. Expect sea turtles, and possible nurse sharks.

We gear up and hop in. This time my meter is in PSI and not bar which is easier to keep track of. There also is no strong current so it’s much easier to make it to the front of the boat and we’re there in a jiffy. Becka tells us to equalize and start going down. This time it takes just a few bursts out of my BCD and I’m neutral buoyant, I look at my gauge and next to nothing has been used, so much better! Becka though gives me the signal to go back up so I pop back up. Apparently she forgot her weight pockets. Then she dropped her slate. She’s not nearly as together as Florian was. I’m fairly confident in myself at this point that I’m not worried. We’re not going very deep either way.

We descend down the mooring line and I’m feeling much more comfortable, mostly working on not breathing so much. It’s funny to me in a way because I suppose most breaths I take I’m breathing in more air than I actually need, so now I’m trying to control this to not waste tons of air. When I breathe in deep to increase my buoyancy, I try my best to let it out slowly to not waste the oxygen. We get moving but before long Becka has to put more weights on the older gentleman with me named Richard. When we get going long, and Richard seems to have forgotten Becka is supposed to lead and goes off like he’s on a mission. Becka chases him down and they pass right over another sea turtle just sitting on a clump of coral munching away. Becka catches him and looks back and I’m snapping photos. I had been told on shore I couldn’t use my camera because of my novice status and she was too busy to shoot for me, but at this point I think she didn’t care much. I got some pretty choice shots before the turtle went up and I couldn’t follow. I turned around and went back towards my group who had gotten a little ahead. There is so much soft coral I haven’t seen before, some of it looks really fragile. We found a bright blue bait ball before swimming through a cool arching rock structure. Our circuit continued seeing a spiney puffer fish, and eventually another sea turtle, this one a little smaller at a shallower depth. Circling back around we find the other groups. Ron has this SLR in a nice enclosure and is doing some macro photography. I have no clue what he’s shooting and I’m regretting not looking into prescription mask options, I would have seen that there were those disks for sale. I just can’t see all the little details, just color and shape. I still enjoy the dive regardless, but it makes me look forward to my next opportunity on a future trip where I can better take advantage with prescription glass in my mask. The dive was winding down though and Becka indicates she wants to do the 3 minute safety stop at 15ft so we ascend to the midpoint on the mooring line. I had hoped to see a shark, I know the ones in the area aren’t dangerous and it would have made for striking photos, but no luck. I had been keeping track of my air and knew I was at 850psi so I figured Richard was running low. After Becka looked at her meter while we were on the line I had a look too, he was at 800 so we were nearly identical with plenty of time left. Boo! I guess one down side of not having my open water cert is I’m bound to my guide, when she feels like being done, so am I. I would have loved another 10-15 minutes out there until we were closer to the 500psi mark. At some point sitting on the line she noticed my ridiculous tan line on my legs where my cycling gear ends and pointed and made a laughing gesture. She asked me on the surface if I wear a wetsuit much and I chuckled, I wish it was something more manly looking than cycling shorts making those tan lines.

Back on the boat I find out we had been down for 55 minutes! So much better than previously, though we didn’t get down quite as deep. I think most of that was just me getting used to it and being more aware of my breathing. Right behind us was the Nitrox couple and already in the boat was Joost’s group who had been in the water a fair bit before us. All in all we had been about the same time as the other groups! Well except for that Swedish girl and Kelly, they stayed down, and stayed down. Nearly an hour after we got out they finally surfaced! Kelly the captain had been on Nitrox, but the Swedish girl Genna was just on air. I can’t imagine being able to do that. Both come out of the water shivering and drop their gear before leaping back in for a few minutes. Kelly ran past screaming “Holy F&%# I need to pee!” and jumps in ripping off her wetsuit in the water. The whole boat is laughing.

On our way back to the port I talked to Genna a little, she’s leading a strange life, she was wandering out the Caribbean and ended up in Guadeloupe and has been bumming around for 2 years down here except for a ski trip to France. Many of the guides are the same way, jumping from one dive shop to the next over the years. After having dinner with them I realized 2 years is the longest any of them have been in Saba, most much shorter. Their work and play completely revolve around diving, for them they’re living the dream. Living the Endless Summer.

Paddy is waiting on the dock and we load in and head out, Genna looking to hitch hike. Our taxi stops by the dive shop to ask if Richard and his wife Leslie are going diving tomorrow. I tell the lady I need to pay and she says I can swing by tomorrow on my way out of town. Saba is nice and relaxed for sure.

There was about an hour between getting back to El Momo and when dinner, so I started sorting through the pictures while sitting on my porch. I read some more articles on color correction, but I don’t think they helped. I’m pretty sure everything is as good as I can probably do at this point. Then the clouds started blowing in. It looked so cool, I was right at cloud level watching them drift through the trees, but the school down below was still brightly lit by the sun.

Tonight is what JD and Joost call their “Eat Along” which is where they cook a large amount of food and everyone eats together. At $10 it’s a steal in Saba. JD had been cooking penne in a vegetable marinara with the vegetables from their little garden. Ron and Teresa were there along with a friend of Joosts who has been living here for 4 years before she got “stuck”. I didn’t ask what she meant by “stuck”. The food was delicious, and the conversation good. Very enjoyable, but the day was getting long.

We all said good night and I headed up to my room to wind down and go to bed. A few millipedes had found their way in my room, but it was still mostly clear so I tossed them out and went to sleep. Another good day.

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