Just in time for Shark Week! My timing is perfect, no?
When HD started coming home telling me about what we were going to be doing on our vacation I was a little nervous. I'm not a big risk-taker. I'm not a thrill-seeker. So when I was told that we HAD to get snorkel gear I shuddered a little. I love the ocean; it's beautiful. I love the way it looks and sounds and smells. Occasionally I like to dip my toes in. But to actually put on a mask, snorkel and fins? Uh, no thanks.
Remember when I said that we had to step out of our box a little? This is me stepping out of my box, right here.
I figured I had to try it once or twice, right? I mean, we were in the Virgin Islands for Pete's sake. Then if I didn't dig it I could just stay on board and read or whatever. On day one I tried. The water was warm but not hot. The fins helped more than I thought they would. The mask and the snorkel? Wasn't a fan, but I did it anyway. I'm not a super strong swimmer but I did ok that first time.
Later that day, at another location, the current was stronger. I was scared, so I didn't go.
Then later still we had to swim to shore to go to a restaurant to have lunch. That was ok. Still wasn't a big fan but I was getting more comfortable.
By the third day I was feeling much better about the whole snorkeling thing and we stayed at a place called The Bitter End. It's a part of Virgin Gorda. If you look at the map there is a spot near the "A" where it says 'dock', and after asking around we found out that there was a good snorkel spot out past that spot. There is a reef just east of there and past that is full-on Atlantic Ocean. We left the kids to sleep in and the adults decided to go out.
|See the teeny 'island' in the left of the picture? There is a sand bar/reef just above it. It's white-ish. That is where we were. Just east of this, (which would be up in this picture?), next stop Africa.|
When we got there we put our gear on and decided to swim to the left for a bit, then cross the reef and come back on the outside. Seeing as we were in the Atlantic Ocean and the current was pretty strong I was the last in our group. I will say, though that I was doing ok for me. Our friends had never snorkeled this reef so we were all stopping to show one another some coral or fish or something. The men were out in front of us and all of a sudden I had caught up to them. When I looked around they were pointing and going back under.
The universal symbol for "Hey! Look over there!"
So I stopped and went under. I wasn't prepared for what I saw but I am so glad I was there. Just 20 feet in front of us was a reef shark that was about 5 feet long. (Seriously, measure it out.) I just hung there watching him. I'm sure it was only 20-30 seconds but it was the Coolest Thing Ever. After surveying us and deciding that he didn't know what those weird creatures were he darted away.
Come to find out later, everyone in our party but me was slightly panicked about how close we were to him. HD was even thinking "What if he comes at me? What do I do? Where would I go?" I wasn't. I just wanted to dangle in the water and watch him. I didn't feel threatened or afraid.
Who would have thought? Me, the least experienced swimmer/snorkeler in the party getting to see that on just my third day and not being scared at all. Talk about out of my box!
At the end of the trip I confessed to our hosts that I had never snorkeled before and that at the beginning of the trip I was quite nervous about doing it. They couldn't believe it and thought I did really well. They actually thought I'd done it lots of times before.
I guess I am stronger and more brave than I thought.