Sally’s Reef

11 Jun

It’s about time that I wrote a blog, I know. Sorry about that. I suppose in one hand life has just been going so fast the last month that I haven’t had time to reflect and write, but in the other hand I’ve just been grumpy because I can’t scuba dive and that is what I love writing about the most.

We have had a great time lately though, and lots has been happening, both good and bad. Mostly good though. One cool thing was that I finally got a reef named after me. Bad thing is that I can’t dive it until next year most likely! 🙁

I went out on the boat with Chris and Menno last week. Menno is a return diver and some of you may remember him from when he completed his divemaster internship with us in Dec of 2010. Anyway… his mom and dad live on the island so he and sis (both from the Netherlands) come to dive with us as often as they can (which isn’t often enough). We are always hunting for new dive sites and we recently got some co-ordinates from a fisherman that we wanted to test out so Chris and Menno decided they would be the one’s to do it!

We got three sets of GPS points. The first set was about 10 miles away, somewhere between us and St. Barts. Although we really want to try it, it is a bit far for us to go and we will need a whole day to get there and back most likely. The other two sets sounded much more promising.

So, I set out on the boat with Chris and Menno (who we will now refer to as “Nemo” because it is a) funnier and b) funnier!) for some exploration diving. Exploration diving is one of my favorite things to do. There is this is extra excitement on the boat before the dive because of the unknown factor. We have no idea what we will find, if we will find anything. We don’t know the depth or if there is current, we don’t know if it will be a wreck, reef, sand or rock. A good dive plan is needed and all the stakeholders need to be on the ball. I was captain for this trip (although only at the very last minute when Chris finally ceded control to me… he was even driving the boat in his full scuba kit, but he is a guy and a guy that likes to drive boats!).

Anyway…. When we drop divers in for an exploration dive, normally they need to get in the water and down as quickly as possible. Often they will execute the super cool “negative” entry technique, which means that there is no air in their BCD so that they sink right away. Super cool James Bond style! This way they are right on the money.

I was right over the first set of GPS points and Chris and Nemo rolled back into the water after I counted down “3 – 2 – 1 – GO!” At this point I just drifted away and followed their bubbles for a bit. The plan was that if the site was really deep, Chris and Nemo would max out at some ridiculous depth of 160 feet or so, explore a bit, and then ascend. At 40 feet Chris would deploy his SMB (Surface Marker Buoy if you are cool… or “bright orange safety sausage” if you can’t remember the acronym) so that I could see where the divers were in order to pick them up.

Now, If I had been diving I would have a really descriptive story about descending into the blue, not knowing what was beneath me, signaling to Nemo and sinking, sinking, sinking. As I was on the surface, my story includes trying not to get sea sick (something that the little guy in my belly has introduced to my life) and watching bubbles. Not as exciting, I know. Sorry about that… not my fault!

After about 5 minutes I saw the SMB (I’m cool, so I say SMB!). This means that the site wasn’t as deep as Chris had originally been told by the fisherman. After 30 minutes Nemo and Chris surfaced. I went over, anxious to find out the results of the dive, and helped the divers back on the boat. I heard “That was the biggest Eagle Ray I have ever seen!” And “Not that deep really…”

When we were settled and Chris took over the controls again (obviously) I got the details. Apparently the depth was only about 70 ft and it was a flat bottom. What the fisherman thought was a reef (because he kept getting his anchor caught on it) is really just a 2 inch diameter cable that runs from St. Martin to Anguilla. Not really a great dive site… however we did execute a great exploration dive plan. Right on the money!

So…. exciting, yet not very fruitful.

On to the next site!

This one was closer to shore and shallower. We knew the depth was less simply because of it’s location. Plus, as we came closer to the GPS points we could look over the edge of the boat and see reef! We knew right away that we were going to find more than just a cable at this site. Chris and Nemo once again prepared their tanks and equipment while I slowly circled the area and looked for best place to drop them in.

Same drill as last time, except that as it wasn’t a deep site I asked Chris to deploy his SMB the whole time, as following bubbles is a lot more difficult than following a bright orange safety sausage (I guess I’m not that cool 🙂 ).

Again, if I was diving I would provide beautiful description of a descent into a new area, seeing lots of coral and fish, colors, feelings of excitement… etc. Reality… I was on the surface (in water less choppy so feeling better) most likely shoving some food down my mouth. Being pregnant is synonymous with being hungry… didn’t you know that? Not such a pretty story, huh? Bet you can’t wait until I get back in the water!!

Anyway, after 40 minutes the divers surface and Chris finally gives me his beautiful description of the site. Apparently there a really healthy reef, with hard coral heads surrounded by soft corals. There were lots of fish, he saw a turtle and huge nurse shark. The reef is only about 30 – 40 feet and as he got on the boat he decided to call it “Sally’s Reef.”

Finally! My own reef! Sadly I don’t get to see it until after our little diver makes his appearance in October, but I like to dream at night of people saying “Diving at Sally’s reef was the most beautiful dive ever!” Or… “I just saw the coolest fish at Sally’s Reef.” Or… “Can we go dive Sally’s Reef again please!”

I will post photos, once I get in and take them! So keep watching this space!

(Sally wrote this blog, and managed not to eat a single thing while doing so! It’s a miracle! 🙂 )

One Response to “Sally’s Reef”

  1. Miranda Paul June 11, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    Congrats on finding a new reef and having it named for you, Sally! I enjoyed reading this and can’t wait to get back to Saint Martin to dive with you guys…two years is too long! Can’t wait to see the baby when he arrives, too! So much good news!

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