Thursday, April 27, 2017

BVI 2017: Day 4 - Great Harbor (Peter Island) to Soper's Hole

I slept for 9 and a half hours the night before, which put me in a great mood come 6:00am! In fact, I definitely felt well enough to dive. Bowen had also switched to a 6:00am rise time, so now we had a full complement of crew at 6:00 to help move the boat. We made coffee, ate quickly, and did engine checks as well as health checks. Arturo and Mark felt great, and John also felt OK to dive, so we headed off to fine the wreck of the Rhone buoy.

We arrived at the Rhone NPS buoys as the only boat around. A swim check revealed that there was a better buoy for what we wanted to do, so we moved the boat and then started prepping for the dive. Xiaoqin felt well enough to dive, so she did the first dive while I took Bowen around the bow part of the wreck so he could look around as well as see mommy dive.

We were just about done with the snorkelling and were waiting for the divers to come up from their first dive before the first commercial dive boat started showing up. Dive shops typically start at 8:00am, and it takes a good hour to prep the divers and then drive the dive boats over to the dive sites, so if you manage to get to the dive site at 7:30am, you pretty much get the place to yourself.

My third (and last) dive on this trip didn't feel as nice as the first two. My lens kept flooding, and I had a hard time descending. Add to that was a current that did nothing for my sense of peace. Nevertheless, the wreck of the Rhone is still a great dive, and I enjoyed myself. Arturo did a good job of steering us away from what had become a crowded dive site, and when we got back on-board, we were hungry enough to eat lunch before putting away the gear and setting sail for Soper's Hole.

My last sail to Soper's Hole was in 2007 on a mono-hull. With a single-engine and inexperienced crew, dealing with mooring buoys was such a chore that I opted for a slip, and didn't have a good experience --- it took a long time to pick up water, and the place felt crowded. We debated contingency plans for when we got there, including deploying the dinghy to reserve a mooring buoy if the place was so crowded that finding a free mooring buoy was going to be an issue.

Once in the harbor, we were told to go to the main fuel dock to pick up water. While we were filling up our water tanks, we put Xiaoqin, her mom, and the 2 kids ashore, while I did the dishes. Mark, John, Arturo and I found a wheel barrow, moved all the empty air tanks into it, and then Mark proceeded to wheel it to the Blue Water Divers shop. The shop had a great policy --- since we had rented the tanks from them, we didn't have to wait for a fill --- they would just exchange our tanks with already filled ones, and then bill us for the fill along with the rental equipment when the charter was entirely over.

We paid for a mooring ball and water, and then got off the docks to grab a nearby mooring ball. There were a large number available, so it was a non issue.
Ashore, Bowen and Boen had gotten ice cream, but when we arrived at the land showers (might anticipated), we discovered that the marina office was closed! While the staff manning the fuel station was willing to give us the code to the bathroom, the showers would only operate using a token that can be purchased from the marina office.

Arturo was unhappy. "No land showers, no way am I going to eat ashore!" We reprovisioned, piled into the dinghy, and went back to the Kokomo III intending to get a BBQ dinner. Even that was almost thwarted, as the BBQ literally fell apart in Arturo's hands when he mounted it! It was so old that the hole around the screw cap had rusted off. Arturo salvaged it by screwing back everything in an "unauthorized" fashion. "It probably won't hold for more than 2 more BBQs, but we don't have to BBQ more than that!"

For once, everyone had a decent appetite, but right after he had his burger, Bowen threw up! He'd gotten the Nolo virus. We cleaned up, gave him a nice hot shower, and put him to bed with a garbage bag and instructions to throw up into the bag if he felt sick. This left Mark the only person who'd gotten away without getting sick. Not coincidentally, he had imposed quarantine by labeling a bowl, plate, and eating utensils with his name and making sure he was the only person to touch them.

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