Friday. Last full day on the island. CRAP! Ok, letís not think about it. Of course like a morning should start, we go to Tuff-ENuff for another adventure. Whatís on tap for an Aloha Friday (something Steve Dahl created in his drinking days. A great way to start a weekend. Mixing margaritas, Mai Taiís and the like on air for us to join in.) Well how about a trip to the Blue Hole and beyond? Why not? Being that we were leaving the next day Paul couldnít dive heíd have to snork it with me and Lori (the soon to be med student), while the rest of the group dove. The trip out was a drenching experience as we cut thru the waves. I was sitting on the wrong side and Lori sat behind me using me as a shield from the splashing water. Hey thanks. Glad I could be of service. Actually, anything is more fun with a girl so I really didnít mind. Ok, the Blue Hole. Well what can you say? Tre Cool my friend. Snorking the reef rim was great. Plus itís another GPS point, the first of 3 for the day. It was here up by the boat that Lori asks me, ďis that a barracuda?Ē Five feet away, opening and closing its mouth in a menacing way swam a 4 footer. I nod my head yes and again keep it in my sights. Back on the boat to Lighthouse Caye, where we get dropped off and the rest go to their dive. Now this isnít a frequently snorked area, but rather a government owned area that is the popular island stopping lunch ground for dive groups. Let me tell you, this is the most underutilized area you can find! The snorkeling there was the best Iíd seen all week. The only way I can describe it is that itís like swimming in the biggest, most perfect salt-water aquarium that you can find. All the different types of coral, fish, lobster, squid, I can go on and on and on. It was simply amazing. But of course this is the day I donít have an underwater camera. Thanks Murphy for your stupid law. Anyway, the currents can get pretty fast there and you really have to watch yourself because it can get VERY shallow and remember, you CANíT touch the reef! Please! Donít wreck it for everyone else, especially the things that have to live there. Paul, our guide, not my buddy, took us thru the most amazing maze to see things that go beyond mere words.
After another great lunch, we board the boat for our last swim. We stop in an area that the divers will go do a wall dive and again, weíll snork the surface. Unfortunately for Paul, my buddy, not the guide, lost his snorkel on the last island. Not knowing that someone in our party had found it and taken just in case. So he borrowed an extra the guide had, but it didnít have the water valve and he kept sucking in water. He began to feel like I did when I tossed into the water my breakfast donation, so he made his way back to the boat. So guide Paul, Lori and myself pressed on and again saw amazing fish, an Eagle Ray, and so many great things. When the dive was almost over and the first of the part had gotten on the boat I got a hold of Paul and we decided that it was time to make our way back to the boat. Great, only about 200 yards to go, into the current. Now this wouldnít have been such a big deal except for the fact that, well, letís just say Lori was a strong swimmer. Doggy paddle was her style and reminded me of Martin Short from his days on Saturday Night Live. He did a thing with Harry Shearer where they were training for the Olympics in male synchronized swimming. Only thing was that Martin couldnít swim so he wore floaties on his arms and splashed around a lot. Well, that was Lori without the floaties, but funny none-the-less. Funny that is until she attracted a small school of barracuda. Four of them were swimming by when she caught their attention then as if told by the lead fish, they turned at the same time and suddenly accelerated toward us. Remember what I said about being aware of your surroundings at all times? I quickly lay back and put my fins up which promptly halts their advance. Swaying the current they follow us. Lori still oblivious to whatís going on continues to splash and Paul is too far ahead for me to contact. This goes on for about 50 yards when I guess the last diver got on board and Paul stopped to wave Oliver over with the boat. This is my chance. I grab Paul under water and turns to see why I did. I motion under water that there are 4 barracuda trailing us. He motions me to go on and dives under us to take my spot. I motion to Lori that we need to go to the boat and she has a slightly puzzled look on her face. She must have thought I was a little irrational or something because we were already heading that way. I tried to think just how I could convey to her the need to stop splashing and swim the way she had done for time-to-time before and not panic her. Quickly the boat arrives and I grab the ladder. I tell her to get on board quickly and she asks why. Iím hesitant to say why so I repeat for her to get her fins off and get on board. I duck under and see that the motor has brought in 4 more barracuda, 2 flanking in from either side. She gets one fin in the boat and is in the process of removing the other when, quite stupidly I say thereís barracuda in the area and theyíve been following us. Well, now why did I go and do that? Why didnít I wait till we were on board? Stupid, stupid, stupid!!! Now she gets rather nervous and isnít getting out of the water as quickly as Iíd liked and is asking where they were. I tell her that Iíll tell her all about it topside. Now Oliver told us that barracuda are curious fish and love to come close without doing anything, as long as you look like you know what youíre doing down there. But if you splash around a lot, hey theyíre like any animal, theyí go for the easiest meal. They think youíre an injured creature and will give you a taste test. So Oliver, not knowing that Iím a black belt in karate says, ďif youíre down there and they bother you give them a good karate pose and show them that youíre not scared and know what youíre doing.Ē As he jokingly demonstrated while on the boat. Amusing at the time, sure, practical in application. As she made her way up the ladder both pairs of flanking fish came in to see what all the noise was about. So, now I have to take off my fins while Paul has his back to me not knowing there are 4 more here and I have to keep these guys at bay. So as I removed one fin then the other I made my way from side to side of the ladder, going at one pair then the other and showing them I, supposedly, wasnít afraid of them. Throw a quick shoulder fake here, throw a quick shoulder fake there, next thing you know, Iím on board and so is Paul and weíre off to the island and a couple of drinks and pictures @ Crazy Canucks bar.
Last night on the island and we havenít taken any time to just sit and lounge on the beach. Night has fallen and the stars have risen. The moon begins to rise and off to the south over the water, an electrical storm is doing her worst. Paul and me recline on some beach chairs and just take a moment to take it all in. Paul lights up a Cuban and for some bizarre reason the hotel cat jumps up on my chair, and sits herself right on my chest and falls asleep. Nice way to end the story right? Well, lets just say that afterward we made our way to the Barefoot Iguana and had a good time with the guys from Tuff-ENuff and Lori. Good times. Good timesÖ wonder if she ever made it off the island?