Thursday May 30, 2013
There was something very strange about being anchored in the North Sound last night. It wasn’t that we had four people packed into a West Sail, getting tipsy on a game of Settlers of Catan, that’s actually quite normal, it’s that we were on a boat that was absolutely still. It was so calming that I almost told Brian and Stephanie that this would be Rode Trip’s permanent location until Matt and I decided to make our next passage, and hey, by the way, we’ll be staying here every night until then. Having enjoyed ourselves way too much at our little slumber party the night before, alarm clocks didn’t go off until after 8, and even then we were rubbing weary and bloodshot eyes. Brain took the remaining leftovers from the previous night of chicken and potatoes, and tossed them around in a skillet with a few spices and an egg on top. I really must try this thing that people call cooking. Spirits were high as we had full stomachs and the sun was shinning. I think the words ‘perfect day’ were uttered too soon though, and as soon as that phrase fell into the air, more dark storm clouds rolled in overhead. We’ve noticed that when the rain actually does come, it passes by fairly quickly, so we’d just wait it out in the cabin before traveling the few miles across the sound to the shallow banks of Stingray City. Settlers of Catan was broken out once more, without the distilled sugarcane and molasses this time, but Matt decided he wouldn’t get suckered into playing again.
Beautiful morning we’re having!
I think Settlers of Catan was too much for his brain to handle.
When the rain finally let up, even though the sun was never looking like it was going to make it’s way out, we upped the anchor and began making our way to Stingray City. Visually we could see right where it was by the plethora of other boats packed into one tiny area, but we did still have to keep our eyes glued to the charts since the North sound is full of shallow areas only 5 to 6 feet deep (with the sandbars around the rays at only 3 feet). Still keeping a safe distance, we dropped the hook in a patch of sand and lowered the dinghy in the water. Maneuvering our way through jet skis, we dropped the much smaller hook on the dinghy and fell back into the water with our snorkel gear on. For a few minutes we floated around only staring at sand and the occasional conch, until a few dark spots began drifting our way.
It’s a stingray floating by us!
As soon as one came by, the rest of them began to swarm over as well. Since we weren’t part of a group and didn’t get the ‘swimming with stingrays’ lecture, I was still a little unsure of what I could or couldn’t do around them. Both the guys told me to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground so I wouldn’t accidentally step on one, but with the waves that were just rolling in enough from outside the sound, keeping my feet flat on the sand was much harder than I thought. So I instead floated at the surface, watching the stingrays swim by and weave in and out of people like they were cones for a drivers test. It wasn’t long before Matt and Brian wanted to go a step further than having the stingrays just swim around at their feet. They wanted to feed them. So pulling out some squid that Brian had picked up at the marine chandler the previous day, they wiggled the tasty treat between their fingers….until the stingrays came to suck it out of their hands.
I tried to hover for a bit with the camera as swarms and swarms of them came by, the whole time worried that I was going to accidentally kick one and end up with a stinger through my food. In the end though, it wasn’t me who got hurt. Brian had a nice little chunk taken from his hand when he let the stingray suck on it for too long. Maybe it was more of a bite than a chunk, but it still looked pretty nasty, and we’re pretty sure he’s going to mutate into some kind of sea creature. It didn’t keep Matt and I from feeding and playing though, and even I had my turn with a feeding, trying to hold my ground as the ray literally kept pushing me back with it’s force. I decided I was better off with the camera than feeding them, and went back to taking pictures of the guys until one came up to me and basically suctioned itself to my back as I floated there. Sneaky little bastards…
I’m sure I would have been stabbed by this point.
Here fishy, fishy, fishy…
Like sharks being drawn to blood.
There goes Brian, getting his hand eaten off.
But they still ended on good terms.
Mmmm, finger licking good.
’I swear, if I feel one tooth on my finger, I will eat you for dinner!’
Before long, another storm started making it’s way in and we made our way back to the dinghy so we could get to Rode Trip before a downpour let out. It seemed like once more for our trip, we had to hide out for bad weather. I thought this was supposed to be paradise? I guess that’s what we get for staying in the tropics at the beginning of hurricane season. When it finally let up we started the long trek back home, making a few light bumps on the sandy bottom while trying to get to the deeper waters of the sound, but clearing any coral through the channel this time. Once all eyes were not needed on deck anymore, I was put below with a cup of tea, soon zonked out with the wonderful memories of our trip to see the stingrays swimming in my head.