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  • Day178

    Scuba Time St. James USVI

    March 16, 2016 on the U.S. Virgin Islands ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Again alone on Gaia, we provisioned diesel, dinghy fuel, water, laundry and refilled scuba tanks in Redhook, St. Thomas. We made a quick motor around the bend to Christmas Cove on St. James and partook in the novelty of Pizza Pi, a steel-hulled sailboat that will serve pizza via VHF & dinghy. A nice and fun treat! We fell in love with Christmas Cove and since the moorings were free… stayed a few nights. We dove on Calf Rock (3/4 mile dinghy ride WSW). It was a fun little dive where beginner divers become certified, actually, where Mike got his very own PADI cert years back. We ended up navigating through some narrow valleys in the rock, which proved to be really fun UNTIL… Mike picked up a broken off piece of coral with a neat little brittle star crawling on it, then dropped it. The shell swirled and swiveled round and round ever so delicately skimming my lower thigh just below where my shortie wetsuit cut off. For such a slight and momentary contact, it felt extremely sharp but I paid no attention to it for the first few minutes. My leg began stinging immensely and the area of contact felt tingly. I’m no expert but I know the words tingly and stinging don’t belong when you’re 40 feet underwater in a rock slit. So I motioned for us to return directly back to the dinghy something was not okay. On our return we followed a turtle, saw a grouper, and Mike even touched a trunkfish!

    Back on the boat I cleaned the wound with salt water and vinegar. I had read somewhere you should use salt water as opposed to fresh and vinegar will reduce the sting. It worked but I had a patch of bumpy irritated skin, which lasted for a few weeks. We ended up identifying the cause of the irritation as fire coral. Fire coral can grown on anything. So watch out!

    Once I got over the trauma of my scuba buddy slashing me with fire coral…. We went diving again. We dinghied due south to an extended point of rocks called The Stragglers; hooked onto a mooring and descended next to the rocks. At 25 feet we heard a boat engine. I looked at Mike & tried to decompress my BCD so I’d sink further to the bottom and closer to him. Hearing the motor get closer, I looked behind me and to the surface and I’ll be damned! A medium-sized powerboat went right over our heads! I was more angry than scared that time… We continued onward and sure enough I heard another engine. This time I kept turning in circles to see if I could locate the boat. No sighting of it but I was breathing hard out of fear. I reminded myself we were in 30 feet of water and floating close to the coral heads and continued the dive until I was cold. Those two encounters served as a strong reminder that the safest place to descend and ascend is on your mooring ball line; that and there are a lot of stupid and oblivious boaters out there. (Respect dive flags, and popular snorkeling/dive spots boaters! And don’t be wanker watch where you anchor!)

    The caves are from Normans Island where the dreaded Willy T resides
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