Attack Angels and Other Mysteries of the Deep

Until the other day I would have described the fish on Bonaire as overly placid and oblivious to us on our daily plunges. Fish would swim past us without changing their direction or even giving us a second glance. It made us feel that we were really a part of their world and we were seeing them in their true light. Then we dived under Joyce and Paul’s boat and were immediately met with two hostile French angel fish. These two

This French Angel fish did not harass us.

This French Angel fish did not harass us.

‘bullies’ shadowed us for the whole hour of our nautical tour with one biting Thomas’ finger when he offered it to him and another sneaking up and nibbling my elbow. At one stage I went off in another direction away from Thomas following a golden spotted snake eel. The eel was being harassed by some little fish and when it saw me, it immediately

Taking the plunge

Taking the plunge

ascended in a spiral movement straight towards me. I don’t think I’ve ever moved so quickly underwater as I raced to hide behind my protector and saviour. Anything that looked that much like a snake wasn’t to be messed with. Obviously our friends were hanging out in the tough part of town. The angel fish under our boat, some 100 metres away were well adjusted and our eels were as docile as they’re supposed to be.

Once again wishing to be in the company of those near mythical creatures, we went diving once more to see the seahorses. This time there was one merrily bobbing along in about 3 metres of depth abstracting nourishment from the sea bed. We had such a good view of him with the sand underneath him as a backdrop. He ignored us as he went about his business. The other kind of mythological creature was the rare frog fish. Determined to show Thomas one after my encounter with

The special little frog fish that we found under the boat

The special little frog fish that we found under the boat

one when I was diving with Joyce and Paul, I was on continuous alert to find another. Giant tarpons, gargantuan olive moray eels, turtles and spectacular reef fish were plentiful but it wasn’t until the end of our very last dive when that elusive beast showed himself. Thomas had just signalled to go up when I replied back to have one quick circle under the boat and there he was perched on a piece of coral right under our boat. Bright yellow on a pale piece of yellow coral. Feeling quite elated, Thomas fetched the camera to gain evidence. One fellow in the dive shop had said that in his 600 dives on the island, he’d never seen one. I’d had eleven dives and had seen two. Very lucky indeed.

Leaving Bonaire was a bit of a sad affair saying goodbye to my only student in the past year, Derian, and to Joyce and Paul but we hope to catch up with them again. A short trip to Curacao had us anchoring right in front of our friend from the marina, Barry. We didn’t even realise it was him. Although Spanish Waters is a huge anchorage, it’s a bit squashy. He was quick to dinghy over and to welcome us back. After our back stay was repaired we had a quick catch up with some other friends, bought supplies and then we checked out and were on our way to Colombia. That’s where I’m writing this blog – on the passage.

Our friends Paul, Joyce and Derian from Australia

Our friends Paul, Joyce and Derian from Australia

Thomas is experimenting with the spinnaker pole and we’re making great speed with a half reefed head sail. We passed Aruba hours before we planned to with the option to hoist the yellow flag and camp for a few hours but it was such smooth sailing behind the island that we slept well when were off watch. Aruba was lit up like a Christmas tree and an armada of drifting tankers kept the person on watch busy as it looked like we would have to zig-zag through them. Timing was perfect though and we slipped through them without having to alter our course. I had sewn up an Aruba flag just in case we were going to stop over but were happy sailing through the night.

Carlos sailed with us for the last few hours before reaching Colombia

Carlos sailed with us for the last few hours before reaching Colombia

The wind died down just before we arrived in Santa Marta and our next visitor was a small bird that came looking for bugs on the boat. We named him Carlos and he flew through the boat collecting insects. He only left us on our arrival into the marina. He was sweet and landed on Thomas’ arm at one stage. So trusting.

We have arrived safely in Colombia earlier than expected thanks to Thomas’ new found expertise with the spinnaker pole. In the notorious area just outside of Santa Marta where the waves were expected to be steep and the winds unpredictable we had to put on our motor. Neither wind nor waves were evident. This was a blessing and we smoothly motored into harbour.

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