Friday, April 13, 2012

April 6th: Deadman's Bay (Peter Island) to Kelly's Cove (Norman Island)

From Screen Captures

We started the morning bright and early and went to look for the mooring buoys at Coral Garden. Steve was pushing for the dive on the other side of dead chest, since he and Shauna had done Coral Garden twice as part of their certification dives. However, the south swells were still going strong as we neared Deadchest, so Arturo nix'd the idea in favor of Coral Gardens. To our dismay, the mooring buoy in the protected area was taken, and clearly taken by someone who had used it as an overnight stay illegally. The only other buoy was a yellow commercial dive boat operation buoy, but we snagged it anyway since it was early in the day and we would likely be gone before any commercial dive boats showed up.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

Coral Garden was a beautiful, if shallow dive. As the name described, it truly encompassed coral upon coral. The shallowness of the dive actually helped, as it meant we could stay down for almost a full hour on one tank of air.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

After the dive was over, we went over to Sprat Bay on Peter Island in order to refill our dive tanks. We reasoned that it was unlikely that we would do more than one more dive in the trip, so we filled up just 6 tanks. Peter Island is way more expensive than every other tank refill place, charging us $10/tank. Cooper Island was $6/tank. The dive instructor tried to talk us into Angelfish Reef as our second dive, but we noted that there was no snorkeling there, so that wouldn't be fair to the non-divers in the group. Arturo noted that there was a BVI Dive Guide that had detailed descriptions of all the dive sites in the area, including dives that were in neither of the books we had brought with us. "Something to remember for next time."
From Escape Catamaran 2012

We settled on Rainbow Canyons as our second dive. We had abandoned it just a few days ago because of the race for mooring buoys on Cooper Island, but because it had both snorkeling and diving and was relatively close to the Bight, we made a beeline for it. We got to the other side of Pelican Island and found that all the buoys were taken. However, one of them was not taken by a sailboat, but rather, a motorboat with a swimming ladder. Swimmers were in the water with noodles, a swimming aid that indicated that the folks would probably not stay that long. So I used the opportunity to back and fill the catamaran. The waited lasted about 20 minutes and we were on the buoy. Right after we were moor'd, we received a hail over the VHF which sounded like someone calling the Escape, but when I returned the hail I did not receive any reply, so we proceeded with the dive. It being our last dive, there was a lot of fooling around and taking pictures.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

After the dive, I had my heart set on getting a moor or an anchor position at Kelly's Cove. I remembered the cove from my previous trip, but as we steamed into viewing distance of the cove I saw to my dismay that all the buoys were taken, and there wasn't very much space at all in which to anchor without the boat swinging into another one that's already on a moor. The mooring buoys were not there when I last saw Kelly's Cove, so no doubt it was a new addition.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

We had no choice but to enter the Bight and search for a mooring ball as far away from the Willy T's as we could get. There were plenty available, so we picked one and settled down for lunch. Arturo and I still wanted to snorkel Kelly's Cove, but nobody else did, so the two of us jumped into the dinghy with our equipment and then motor'd over to Kelly's Cove. When we got there, our jaws dropped: one of the buoys was available! Arturo quickly detailed a plan: he would drop me off back at the Escape, and immediately motor over to the moor to reserve it. "Give me 10 minutes, and if I'm not back, it means it's ours!"
From Escape Catamaran 2012

I was dropped off in a hurry, and when 10 minutes were up, we dropped the mooring buoy we were on and picked up an idyllic spot at Kelly's Cove. It was as beautiful as we had hoped, granting us clear views of the channel, but far away from the crowds. I could not believe our luck in happening on the buoy at just the right time with no one else competing for it. Arturo, Steve, and Amy wanted to do a night dive, but by the time they had taken tanks to the air refill it was closed. The tanks were checked and there was about 4 tanks that were usable with air ranging from 850psi to 1500psi, so Arturo, John, Amy, and Steve went for it. We snorkeled around the cove int he afternoon, and I found a notch where it looked like Escape was the only boat in the cove, and Arturo and I snapped pictures there.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

Our choice of location was further affirmed when the buoy collectors showed up: a Chinese couple from Hong Kong. They were thrilled to meet Mandarin and Cantonese speakers as they told us in their year of working here, they had not many anyone who spoke those languages. Even the Asian people were mostly born in America and didn't speak either languages. They gave us some basic statistics about the area: it had 70+ mooring balls, and nearly fills up every night during the high season. The ROI on those mooring balls must be amazing. They also told us (with a hint of secrecy), that we were on their favorite mooring ball location.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

Sure enough, the sunset was glorious that night. So much so that the garbage collecting vessel "Deliverance" parked right in front of us, also watching the sunset. One of the perks of this job is probably a large collection of sunsets every night. We watched the twilight turn pink, yellow, orange and finally a deep midnight blue. It was almost a chore getting food, as everyone was so fascinated by the deepening sky.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

The moon rose as the sun went down, but was hidden behind the cliffs near us until at 8:00pm, it popped out from behind the island and lit up our little cozy cove. We played music, but no one wanted to visit the Willy T, perhaps after being informed that it would be partying until 1:00am tonight.

Arturo, John, Steve, and Amy decided to go for a night dive. At 15 feet maximum depth in Kelly's Cove, it was more like a long safety stop than a dive, so despite the low tanks, folks came back after 30 minutes of diving with air in the tanks.

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