Off to Diamond Reef!
After leaving Virgin Gorda, Breakaway continued on to our next destination, Diamond Reef off Great Camanoe Island. This is a good snorkeling spot for beginners, with lots of tropical fish and coral. The water runs from about 5 feet deep to about 40 feet. There are a lot of coral formations in the shallower water near shore, and around 20 feet deep or so, the coral gives way to a sandy bottom...a good spot to see stingrays lurking about. Legend has it that Diamond Reef got its name, because many years ago a newlywed couple was honeymooning on a yacht here. Supposedly, they had a few too many drinks and got in a fight, and she tossed her large diamond ring overboard. They had divers looking for it, but it was never reported found by anyone.
It may still be down there, nestled somewhere amongst the coral! I don't know if that's true, but it's a good story! What we did find were several kinds of tropical fish, some stingrays, and at the very end, even a shark!
Tyler and I had not brought our own swim fins on this trip, because they are provided by the tour company. Ty was impatient to find a pair that fit him though, and jumped in the water with just his mask and snorkle. Of course, Tyler does not have an ounce of body fat on him...and without flippers, he was having trouble staying bouyant. He kept swallowing water when his snorkle dipped below the waves, so I insisted he get back on the boat and find a pair of fins that fit.
Diamond reef is off Great Camanoe Island, BVI
While he was on the boat, a child of about 6 years old let out a bloodcurdling scream
, and tried to climb out of the water, onto the head and neck of his mother who was holding him! I assumed he must have been afraid of the many tropical fish that had gathered around, since one of the crew members had been tossing fish food off the back of the boat to attract them. I then heard a splash as Tyler jumped back into the water on the other side of the boat. I found out later, that the kid screamed because he saw a shark swim by him, apparently attracted by all the fish! Tyler and the crew member saw the shark from the boat , and Tyler actually jumped back in
to get a better look at him, swimming away! The first mate saw him also, and said it was a 5 or 6 foot Reef shark, not that unusual for the area.
getting ready to snorkle!
Now, I had told Tyler previously, that if he ever encountered a shark while diving or snorkeling, to treat it pretty much like a bear encounter. Don't provoke it, don't run from it, but be calm and try to steer clear. The shark doesn't consider people to be a food source, so they will generally leave you alone. Most shark attacks are due to mistaken identity-- the shark bites in cloudy or murky water to "test" you, because he may confuse you with a seal or somthing in the poor visibility. Well, we don't really have a visibility problem in the clear waters of the Caribbean! So, this shark encounter went pretty much like our Grizzly Bear encounter in Yellowstone NP two years ago.... it just went past us without a second glance.
another boat has the same idea
Still, If I had seen it from the boat,
as Tyler had, I doubt I would have jumped in for a closer look!! Tyler has a fearlessness about him that sometimes borders on recklessness!
While Tyler was off chasing sharks on the other side of the boat, I was intent on finding him that elusive conch shell he was hoping to have as a souvenir. I had spotted one in about 35 feet of water that had a hole in it, which would indicate it as unoccupied. Unfortunately, this was about 5 feet beyond my grasp! I made repeated dives to try to reach it, but unlike Tyler, I actually have a (little) bit of body fat, enough to hinder my bouyancy sufficiantly to keep the shell out of reach. Plus, my ears were popping as I tried to dive down, despite pinching my nose and blowing to try to clear them! Now, Tyler could have dove right to the bottom like a torpedo and retrieved it.
sorry, no pics of the snorkeling! Didn't have an underwater camera!
... but I was unable to get his attention as I tried to call him over. I was unaware at the time that he was chasing a shark on the other side of the boat... infinitely more interesting then a conch shell with a hole in it!
It was around that time that the crew on the Breakaway sounded an air horn, indicating to all that it was time to return to the boat. I was one of the last ones to get back to it, after having made one last futile attempt to retrieve the conch shell with the hole in it. Oh, well! While I was waiting my turn to go up the ladder, however, I spotted another conch, this time in just 15 feet of water, directly below the boat! I dove down easily and inspected it... no legs sticking out, it appears to be unoccupied- all right! And, it's in much better condition then the one I was unable to get! I slipped it into the pocket of my swim trunks, and clambered back aboard the boat.
A building under construction on Great Camanoe Island. I think these will be expensive waterfront condos!
Once on board, I showed it to Tyler, then put it in a plastic bag and stuffed it in my backpack. It was then, (once everyone was safely back aboard) that Tyler and the crew informed us of the shark that had been passing by. Well, no wonder that little kid was screaming and trying to climb out of the water! The shark was bigger than he was! But, it was after fish, not snorkelers- and Tyler rightly considered himself lucky for having seen it!
Once everyone was settled in, we headed off to our next destination... Lunch!!