This morning we are anchored in a protected bay tucked into an island known as Ile Ouen just across from Canal Woodin. The entire bay is surrounded by mountains with raw red soil (think Georgia clay) exposed under a covering of dark green brush. Yesterday morning after running last minute errands (top off the groceries, return the rental car) we finally were able to leave our hurricane haven at Marina Port du Sud. After a small issue with the autopilot which had suffered the effects of excess moisture from the storm, we cast off our lines and motored out through Baie de l’Orphelinat (Orphanage Bay) and headed for a tiny islet for a lunch break and a snorkel.
We had an uninvited guest attempt to join us for lunch. We discovered a sea snake determinedly ascending the stairs from the swimstep to the aft deck. Don’t ask me why sea snakes seem enamored of sunning themselves on a boat, but this isn’t really an uncommon experience. They are highly poisonous but not aggressive, and their mouths are so tiny they would have to gnaw on your earlobe to actually inject their venom. At least that’s what I’ve always been told – I hope it’s not just a pitch from the Tourism Board! We unceremoniously dumped him back into the sea and followed shortly thereafter for our first snorkel of the New Year.
Unfortunately the two hurricanes have had lingering effects on the sea conditions. Although calm on the surface, the depths are still disturbed from the rough weather. Instead of turquoise water with crystal clarity, the visibility was murky from sediment and blurry from fresh water mixing with the salt and the color more of a bottle green. Much of the abundant coral was freshly broken by the heavy surf of a few days ago. And the water temperature was confused, alternating every few feet between balmy bathwater temps and frigid fingers of unpleasantly cold water stirred up from the deep. Still, there were lots of fish including varieties I hadn’t seen before, also a school of squid and a big sea turtle. After paddling about for awhile we waded in to the shore and hiked the circumference of the island. Good shelling, nesting terns and a couple of unidentified raptors, golden sand edged by palms and pandanus. Hopefully the sea will settle in a few days for better diving conditions.
We plan a mountain hike today, bushwhacking because there is no trail here. I photo-kayaked early this morning, mostly for the pleasure of absorbing the peaceful pre-dawn atmosphere when the water is glassy calm and the light is just beginning to touch the mountaintops.