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Cayos Cochinos Birthday

Staying in a marina or in a house on land are amazing, and while we’re working on a differences between living on/off board post (think being able to dispose of toilet paper in the toilet or not worry about how much water you run in the sink), we think there is something truly transformative about being at anchor.

Having a large hunk of metal and hundreds of feet of chain physically tying you down to the bottom of the seafloor gives you an appreciation for the laws of nature, for the wind and waves and tides, of the forces of gravity that a classroom will never be able to impart. You become, if only for a small time, part of the sea. And yet, every minute you are reminded, with a creak of a line or with a gentle swinging around in the breeze, that your sailboat and everything on it are most definitely not meant to float forever.

So we decided to go to Cayos Cochinos, just got back yesterday. It was Steve’s birthday and he wanted to do something different, go somewhere less crowded, somewhere quiet and special where he could reconnect and remember what’s important. Cayos is perfect for that kind of reflection, the anchorage is small, almost pitch black at night and the stars were out in force, blanketing the sky with thousands of bright little pinpoints of light. We saw Dolphins there because, of course we did!

It gets a little windy in there at night, and you have to pick up a mooring, but we were in close to the most sheltered corner off the big island they called Cayo Mejor. The snorkeling was great. We saw tons of stuff, from turtles to stingrays and more angelfish, trumpetfish, lobsters, parrotfish and coral than we could count. Diving was even better, the kind of birthday treat that comes around once in a while, and it was really special. I loved how healthy the reef was and how completely chock full of all kinds of diverse life it was.

Our guides were both really passionate about pointing out really cool little things like juvenile drummerfish -- one of my absolute favorites! Since some of them are small enough anyway, finding one of them as a little kiddo fish is really neat. Doesn’t seem like much but it’s the small things that make days big, right? Anyway, the folks over at Turtle Bay Eco Resorts are pretty great, they’re the only dive shop in Cayos and it’s a really sweet little boutique kind of place, amazing for a one of a kind experience!

After a long surface interval,in which I mourned the loss of my Suunto Zoop dive computer, which had malfunctioned during Steve's first dive, showing a depth that was 16 feet too deep, something he discovered on ascent when it insisted he was at 16 feet below the surface when we were sitting in the boat. Second dive explored an airplane wreck and the surrounding reef. Really pretty stuff. Guide nailed a decent sized lionfish in the cockpit of the plane. Nice shot! More about the dive computer and warranty issues later but for now, make sure to check out this tidbit on Suunto dive computers and class action lawsuits.

It was also really amazing having some of our friends along with us, Sterling and Nicol from S/V Doc Sea are the best! It was our pleasure to have them along, always great to have a buddy boat out there. Thanks for the great birthday dinner and birthday cookies! Steve’s going to need to go on a diet once y’all head back to Texas!

Anyway, we ended up back in West End and did some more diving because why not? There’s only so many days so why not dive right back on in? We checked in with our friends over at Splash Inn, went out on Sofia, one of their boats with Sterling from Doc Sea and h a couple of really sweet dives. First we went to Paradise, right near Sea Quest Deep in the West End/West Bay area, and we had a nice drift down towards the end of the island, sticking mostly to the lush wall of the reef.

On the second dive since it was relatively calm we went up to Sandy Bay and did Overheat Reef, a site Andrea and I did some time back from the dinghy, and it was just as amazing this time around! We saw four turtles, spread out all over the reef. Since it was a little later in the morning (actual afternoon), most of them were sleeping, but that just makes for easier pictures! Not quite as dynamic but amazing nonetheless. Imagine sleeping underwater like that! Pretty amazing stuff.

Oh and Steve got a new hooded vest for his birthday. It really does keep him warm in these frigid 81 degree waters. Takes a little getting used to descending with a hood on but amazing for staying warm!

We’re back up to the east side to prep for a couple of sailing charters now. Back to service. Land of WiFi and connections. The place for processing pictures and decompressing. Back to diving soon.

Until then time for some sailing....

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