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City Dogs Diving

City Dogs are back at it again, doing what we love best -- sailing and SCUBA diving.

Three days ago we went up to Port Royal, had a great time snorkeling -- saw a huge stingray, a sweet puffer fish, a big trumpetfish and a decent amount of one of the most endangered species of branching coral in the Caribbean -- staghorn. Then we had some amazing sailing down the south side of the island and around the tip up to the West End. We had a great time and the icing on the cake was hearing from our good friends over on DocSea inviting us over for dinner as we cruised up past West Bay. They caught a huge Mahi Mahi sailing over from Cayos Cochinos and Captain Sterling served it up with an amazing sauce, rice and some freshly baked bread. It was perfection. There’s literally nothing like freshly caught fish.

Two days ago we went diving up into the Sandy Bay area. We wanted to try the Overheat Reef dive site based on a recommendation -- but we’re not sure we actually did that one as the GPS coordinates we got from the buoy were a bit off. We think it might have been the Pillar Coral dive site instead. Regardless, we had an amazing dive -- our first in Sandy Bay. It’s a long dinghy ride from West End, a bit more than two miles each way, but it was worth it. We saw an hungry hawksbill turtle munching on the coral wall -- found a green moray eel trying to hide in a little crevice, saw a couple of huge clinging wall crabs, a couple lobsters, and an staggering amount of beautiful marine life -- loads of coral, sponges, etc.

Yesterday we went out diving a bit closer to West End in the outer reef section of Blue Channel -- at least that’s what we were aiming for ... but I think the buoy we actually tied up to was the shallow one, as it was in about 15 feet of water, which meant we had a 7 minute swim out to the wall through some amazing coral. There were huge sections of pillar coral that served as a nice visual reference and some truly gigantic barrel sponges. We saw a little spotted moray at the beginning and an awesome sleeping turtle at the end. In between there were trunkfish, filefishes, grouper, snapper, lionfish,and tons of angelfish -- french, gray and queen. It was another amazing dive.

Diving from the dinghy is a bit more challenging than diving from a traditional dive shop boat that has tank holders -- it requires a bit more effort, thought and planning to be sure. It forces you to confront any navigation issues -- to come up with solid dive plans and stick to them -- because there isn’t a Captain sitting up in the dive boat -- there isn’t a divemaster guiding you securely back to the mooring -- you’ve got to deploy your surface marker buoy (SMB) every time especially in the more heavily-trafficked areas -- it’s a really amazing, rewarding, self-reliant experience ... it’s just different from boat or shore diving. You’ve really got to trust your buddy, stay close to your buddy and keep track of the most important task -- getting back to the surface safely.

Since Andrea’s the photographer, I’m tasked with being the underwater navigator -- but it’s not like the dive moorings are marked with site names, and GPS coordinates aren’t always acccurate, so sometimes we’re guessing which dive site we’re actually doing, so I always make sure to study the maps of nearby dive sites just in case the mooring we want is taken -- or we end up on a different one. There are literally hundreds of dive sites on the island -- this map shows just some of them. A few months ago, in a fit of dive hysteria, I announced my intention to attempt to dive every single one of them -- but in the light of day it’s a daunting task -- one that’s almost a logistical impossibility. You know what they say about God and plans.

Today we hit up a dive site in the West End area. -- Three Brothers. Soon we’ll pick up the anchor and sail back up around to the south side -- all the way back up to Parrot Tree to plug in for the night for a bit of AC relief for the fur babies.

We’ve got to get some supplies at the hardware store in French Harbor -- one of the stainless steel bolts on our watermaker somehow broke at the threads and a plastic barb on our transom showerhead cracked the other day -- so we’ve got some small repairs to make. Hopefully we can source these locally, if not we’re going to need to grab them on Amazon and have them brought down with some friendly face.

At least I was able to replace the propeller zinc anode -- it was changed on July 8th meaning it lasted less than three weeks -- which means there is definitely some low-grade current in the water at Parrot Tree.It’s not surprising -but it’s just another task to add to the maintenance schedule. It’s much easier changing it with a tank, so long as you remember to hold onto the scew!

Either way, it’s going to be another hot July day in the western Caribbean for City Dogs. Come Sail With Us!

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