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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April 2nd: The Bight (Norman Island) to Manchioneel Bay (Cooper Island)

From Screen Captures

I got up at 6am only to find that Arturo was also up, along with Shauna. This would set the pattern for the entire trip: the 3 of us were morning people and well suited to getting the boat moving and underway. The morning's motoring was a short distance, less than a nautical mile to get to the Indians, where the mooring buoys would be in high demand (no anchoring allowed because of the coral), but no overnight moorings were permitted.
From BVI 2012

I last tried diving the Indians the last time I was here, but I had a very confused dive master who got lost during the dive and so we never saw any of the swim-throughs that were listed in the book. This time, I suggested that we snorkel around the area to sort through navigation issues. Arturo agreed, but Amy and John were impatient to get underwater and so jumped in straight away with scuba gear. Since Arturo had many more dives than I did, it was naturally assumed that he would lead the dive.
From BVI 2012

Snorkeling in the morning is amazingly great, since the water is still calm and the crystal clear water granted us clear views of the coral near us. We snorkeled for a half hour before donning wet suits and diving in. Arturo after his initial snorkel, said I must have had an idiot for a dive master last time because the navigation would be straightforward.
From BVI 2012

Through to his word, we did the entire dive with no problems, and had no issues finding the divethroughs. The dive was very shallow which meant that we had a nice long dive, without any panic whatsoever about running out of air. Or we would have, had we not noticed that Tony's equipment leaked like a sieve.
From BVI 2012

The dive took so long that by the time we were all sorted out it was 11:00am. Given that Cooper Island's mooring balls were known to fill up some times at 2:00pm, I decided to be extra conservative and start sailing there right away, eschewing a second dive. I reasoned that there were plenty of dive opportunities around Cooper Island anyway.
From BVI 2012

Indeed, by the time we got to Cooper Island's Manchioneel Bay it was quite clear that there was a race going on. There were about 3 mooring buoys left, and there were about 3 sail boats coming in. We watched as one boat after another beat us to the mooring buoys (their skippers much more willing to push their engines than I was), and we headed for the last mooring buoy only to find that it was red. Fortunately, one more buoy at the edge of the bay was open. We took it without drama, and settled down to enjoy the afternoon, still quite disbelieving of the fact that we had a mooring buoy race at 1:30pm!

The others wanted to dive the wreck of the Maria L, but I wasn't terribly interested, having seen the pictures of the wreck from the book, and elected to snorkel Cistern point with XiaoQin instead. We did the snorkel, which was pretty but none too special as it looked like the coral was too far to get a close look without scuba tanks.

We got back to the boat and found the folks were driving back with the dinghy as they could not find the location of the dive site. Shauna and Amy had decided to go ashore with the dinghy. Fortunately, I had pre-programmed the dive sites into my GPS, and handing it to Arturo, was confident that they would be able to do find it this time, especially now that we realized that we had had South and North confused.

There was still plenty of time to swim around, so we swam to the beaches that were marked private as seen from shore. Throughout the BVIs, the beaches up to the high tide line are always public, so you can safely ignore any signs about the privacy of beaches. Indeed, as we got there, two women were dropped off by a dinghy from another yacht and started collecting shells.
From BVI 2012

We had a crisis with the wifi unit. It wasn't working the previous night, and John and Arturo suspected that others were hopping onto our router. They had performed a hard reset, which rendered it useless. A call to the office revealed that (1) the network was simply down last night, and (2) the reset wiped the password for logging on from the unit, and (3) they couldn't give us the password over the phone because the same password was used for all the units. So we had to return the unit back to Horizon and then they'd find a way to get it back to us. A chase boat would cost $150, and there was no easy way to get the unit back to Horizon without sailing back to Nanny Cay, something I was loath to do. While I was at it, Horizon talked us into debugging and fixing the shower sump in the starboard head, which was not draining the shower of water.

The folks came back from their dive and said the coincidentally, Tony was diving at the same site! I called Tony and asked if he could get the unit delivered to Horizon and he agreed, so Arturo jumped back into the dinghy and drove back to the site.

Dursk came early, disappearing behind the clouds and robbing us of a sunset. Nevertheless, having solved all the problems to day, I could not complain and looked forward to diving the wreck of the Rhone again the next day.

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