Babies and Signs of Spring.

Oh Muskmelon. Still the boss of me.

We overnighted in my favorite overnight spot, Muskmelon Bay of Guana Island. It’s wild. It feels untouched and remote, even though Tortola is just a short dinghy ride away. The Bay itself opens up to open ocean, and that brings us delights and sometimes more than we bargain for. Last March, in Muskmelon, we could hear whale song underwater. I nearly exhausted myself free diving down again and again. Often, if there are jellyfish to be found, Muskmelon is the catch all of things that sting. We’ve been seeing all manor of gelatinous things in the water this week, and in the back of my head, I just KNEW Muskmelon wouldn’t want me. But I can’t quit her. I always have to try. 

So this morning, I put on my suit and sacrificed myself to the Guana Goddess. I decided I would jump in and test the waters. If it was ok, I’d call everyone in with me. If it was stingy, we’d take off. I dove in, swam about 200 yards away from the boat when it started. Ok. Ok Muskmelon. I get it. Not me, not today. I should have known better.

So back on board we made a plan to hit Trellis Bay for supplies on our way back south. A morning boat ride was just the ticket for this crew after their huge circumnavigational swim yesterday. 

We pulled into Trellis Bay. Trellis is a place I’ve spent so many day-after-swimvacations waiting for a flight, feeling the stress of worry and planning and managing a trip ebb away. There was a great and tiny cafe, and in the shade of so many palms, a giant purple hammock in which I have enjoyed so many wonderful naps, while the perfect breeze mingled with the sound of gently lapping waves. These are my memories from Trellis Bay, and so it was hard to walk along the shore line, a bare and exposed slalom course of boat carcasses awaiting removal. However. The rebuilding has begun, and already open is the little shack filled with lovely pottery hand made by a local guy. He had beautiful, artful pieces of pottery, jewelry and other odds and ends. I bought a mug for my coffee and a necklace I’m wearing now, and I wish I could have bought the whole store. Trellis will bounce back. There are too many artful islanders for it not to.

Miriam hit the little store for ice and some supplies and we all went back to Camano. Up went the sails and we made our way south to Norman Island.

Lunch was an excellent fish taco affair, and we ate wayyyyy too much considering we wanted to do a big swim in the afternoon. Hot and chomping at the bit, our swimmers jumped in. We did our standard Norman Wonder Tour - the boat along the wall out to Angelfish reef, past the boat and along the other wall with the caves, back to the boat one more time - all told about 2 miles. We offered a half version which a few opted for, while the others went on to take it all in.


The wildlife, while altered from the storm, did not disappoint, and what I am noticing everywhere is that these reefs have become a world of babies. Baby stingrays, baby turtles, baby barracuda, baby tang, even a baby trumpet fish here. The cleaners hard at work making nice places for these babies to tuck in. Angelfish reef is starting over. It will be well worth the wait.

In the rocks outside the caves, I saw a patch of purple 8 or 9 feet down. More tunicates, only this time, the sessile kind that stick to substrate and never move. It’s tunicate week here in the Virgin Islands! What struck me about these little guys is that I haven’t seen abundant tunicates here in over 20 years. And now, like those first purple crocuses of spring, there are little clusters of purple tunicates popping up after the upheaval of the storm. It can’t be repressed.


So we meandered our way across these two miles, admiring all the babies, looking closely at the tunicates, lallygagging in and out of caves. We weren’t in a rush and Norman gave us the goods.


Tonight is our last night out in the islands and everyone lingered on deck for a while before finally hitting the hay. How did it go by so fast?

It’s not over yet. We’ve got a full day tomorrow and one more spot to visit. I’m anxious to see what’s there. After this week of immersion, I’m looking at the islands’ scars with a new lens - the one that sees the babies and the crocuses and the beginnings of spring in the seasons of this Caribbean Sea.

- Heather